Diplomacy on Syria tilts toward Moscow
During their meeting at the G20 meeting in Mexico, Erdoğan (L) agree to meet with Putin before fall. EPA photo
the epicenter of world diplomacy related to solving the Syrian crisis has begun to shift toward Moscow, as multiple diplomatic visitors converge on the Kremlin, beginning with U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, followed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The busy schedule of visits can be seen as an extension of last week’s series of meetings between Syrian opposition groups and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Syria peace mediator Annan is expected to land in Moscow today for talks with President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said yesterday that Annan would arrive in Moscow today and meet Putin the following day for talks in which “Russia will underscore its support for the peace plan of Kofi Annan.”
“The Russian side proceeds from the premise that this plan is the only viable platform for solving internal Syrian problems,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Annan was also scheduled to meet Lavrov, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travels to China, a country that, along with Russia, has blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions placing sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
This will be Annan’s second visit to Moscow since he won support from former President Dmitry Medvedev for his initial six-point peace initiative. Lavrov met with the head of the opposition Syrian National Council last week, without any sign of a change in his stance on the possible ways to resolve the 16-month conflict. Russia said last week that it will oppose a new U.N. resolution on Syria that is militarily enforceable.
“History will judge this council,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said July 13, referring to Russia’s veto threat. “Its members must ask themselves whether continuing to allow the al-Assad regime to commit unspeakable violence against its own people is the legacy they want to leave,” she said, after reports of new killings in Tremseh.
Syria, energy, Middle East on the agenda
A day after Putin meets Annan, the Russian president will welcome Erdoğan to discuss the future of Syria, energy issues and the latest developments in the Middle East. Although not on the agenda, the Turkish jet downed on June 22 is also expected to be discussed between the two statesmen, according to diplomatic sources speaking to Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
According to Turkish officials, Erdoğan is expected to ask for any records about the plane that Moscow has. The U.S. and the U.K. have recently handed over the information they had on the Turkish jet. Russia’s foreign minister said June 30 that Russia possesses “objective observation data” concerning the downing of the Turkish jet, and is prepared to present it.
Thanks to a consultation mechanism established by the foreign ministries of both countries, delegations from Turkey and Russia are expected to meet in the fall within the framework of periodic meetings. During their meeting at the G20 summit in Los Cabos last month, the two leaders agreed to meet privately before the fall meetings. In a phone call on June 27, Putin and Erdoğan discussed the situation in Syria and agreed to meet on July 18 in Moscow. Russia, Syria’s main ally, has firmly resisted any form of outside pressure on al-Assad to step aside.