Istanbul Summit Stresses Importance of Political Solution in Syria
The Istanbul quartet stressed the need to continue on all tracks of the political solution, eliminate terrorism in Syria and ensure the voluntary return of refugees under the auspices of the United Nations.
Following the Syria summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held a joint news conference calling on the international community to work hand in hand for a sustainable solution in Syria.
President Erdogan said "our aim is to reach a complete cease-fire to halt bloodshed," adding that the four nations agreed to increase cooperation among themselves and at the international level on the issue.
"We have discussed a political solution in line with Syrian people's legitimate demands which moves to reach stability in the country," Erdogan told reporters.
He said that the participants in the summit stressed the importance of continuing Geneva talks to resolve the crisis in Syria, adding that the implementation of the Sochi agreement for Idlib was confirmed in preparation for a permanent solution to the Syrian crisis.
On Turkey’s effort to eliminate terrorists along its borders in northern Syria, Erdogan repeated Ankara’s determination for a possible counter-terror operation in east of the Euphrates River.
“We will continue to eliminate threats to national security in the east of Euphrates as well as in its west in Syria,” he said.
The leaders agreed on the importance of eliminating all terrorist organizations in Syria and calling on the international community to help the Syrians and prevent new waves of asylum.
With regard to the return of the Syrian refugees, Turkish President noted that his country had already spent $33 billion in helping Syrians. The Turkish leader also stressed that the return of Syrians to their homeland should be voluntary and that the UN is needed to coordinate this process.
Turkey’s President called on other nations to increase support for refugees as he declared the “people of Syria will determine the future of Bashar al-Assad”.
For his part, Putin told the news conference that a settlement in Syria cannot be reached without consultations that include Syria and "our Iranian partners.”
Asked about the possibilities of a second summit of the four countries, Putin said the countries have "not negotiated this yet, but everything is possible."
“We proposed to our partners that Russia’s initiative to convene an international conference on Syrian refugees be supported. We are aware of everything related to this, we are aware of the problems, but unless we join efforts, we won’t achieve any results," Putin said.
Putin pointed out that the talks focused on humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and on assistance in the return of refugees to the country.
"Russia spares no effort in this area, but in order to drastically improve the situation in the country, to handle acute social problems and to revive the economy, the world’s collective efforts are needed," he asserted.
Macron said that the Istanbul summit is a continuation of Astana. He stressed the need to unite the various tracks of Syria and cooperate in the fight against terrorism and ensure access of aid to those in need.
“The constitutional committee needs to be established, and should hold its first meeting by the end of the year. This is what we all want," he said, adding that” creating it will become a part of the political settlement in Syria."
"It needs to be formed in order to prepare transparent elections monitored by the international community," the French leader noted.
He praised Turkey's role in taking in the Syrian refugees and the sacrifices Ankara had done on the material and humanitarian levels of hosting them. He stressed the need to ensure the security of refugees wishing to return to their homeland.
Macron underscored the importance of the ceasefire: "We will all be extremely vigilant to ensure that these commitments are met and that the ceasefire is stable and sustainable," he told reporters.
In turn, the German Chancellor stressed the need for a political process to end the conflict under the auspices of the United Nations, with the ultimate goal of free elections.
"At the end of this political process, there must be free elections to which all Syrians have access — including the diaspora," Merkel told the conference.
She indicated that Sochi deal for Idlib was a successful agreement to prevent a new wave of refugees, while lauding the role of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
In response to a question on the drafting committee of the constitution and whether the Syrian regime will participate, Russian President asserted that the ongoing process includes the Syrian government and the opposition.
Prior to the four-way meeting, Erdogan held a series of bilateral meetings, where he met Putin, Merkel and Macron separately.
The 45 minutes meeting between Erdogan and Putin discussed the relations between the two countries, especially in the field of energy as well as the Syrian file.
On July 29, Erdogan called for the summit against the background of rising tensions in Idlib and growing fears of a humanitarian tragedy after the Syrian regime and its supporters mobilized military forces on its outskirts.
Turkey has stepped its diplomatic efforts to avert a new wave of displaced people from Idlib, which includes some 4 million civilians, until Sochi agreement was reached with Russia on September 17. Ankara confirmed that the quartet summit will continue to promote Idlib agreement and coordinate efforts to push for a final political solution to the crisis.
France has repeatedly stressed that the cease-fire in Idlib was "fragile" and needed to be strengthened, and considered the summit an "opportunity" to support the formation of a constitution drafting committee in Syria.
Meanwhile, convey of reinforcements have reached the border province of Kilis including artillery and military vehicles, headed from the center of the state to various military units stationed on the Syrian border.
These reinforcements, according to information obtained by the Anadolu Agency correspondent, aim to strengthen the capabilities of the military units stationed at the border.