Turkey does not attend EU’s Syria meeting

Turkey does not attend EU’s Syria meeting

Turkey does not attend EU’s Syria meeting

People walk by a representation of a graveyard for Syrian children set up by the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Save the Children in front of the European institutions in Brussels on April 3. AFP photo

Turkey will not attend a meeting on Syria in Brussels organized by the European Union, with diplomatic sources saying Ankara was not satisfied with an EU response over the format of the meeting and its own title. 

Citing diplomatic sources, state-run Anadolu Agency said Turkey would not attend the Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region to be held on April 4-5 under the auspices of the EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations.

Sources said Ankara could not obtain a satisfactory response from the EU in regards to its expectations for a format and status in which Turkey could contribute the utmost to the conference, during which the political aspects of the six-year-old war will be discussed. 

The conference participants will “also consider the prospects for post-agreement assistance once a genuinely inclusive political transition is firmly under way,” the European Council of member countries said on its website.

Sources said the situation was an effective reason for Ankara’s decision to not attend the conference, adding that Turkey, as the country which hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, will attend the technical sections of the conference in order to contribute to the activities of the welfare of Syrian refugees. 

Turkey’s attendance at the conference was greatly anticipated since it is home to the largest number of Syrian refugees, around 3 million. 

But the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said April 3 that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had not replied to the invitation, even though his counterparts in Jordan and Lebanon were set to attend.

The EU expects U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to attend along with Staffan de Mistura, his special envoy who is mediating the Syria peace talks.

De Mistura reported “incremental progress” at the latest talks on March 31 in Geneva and said he expected to announce a date for the next round this week.

The United States and Russia, meanwhile, are expected to be represented by junior officials or diplomats, not ministers, AFP reported. 

Mogherini has billed the gathering in Brussels as a follow-up to a donors’ conference last year in London, which raised about $11 billion (10 billion euros) for humanitarian aid programs in the devastated country.

The conference  is set to begin on April 4 with a series of workshops, followed by a formal session on April 5 to review progress on the London pledges and see what additional measures might be taken.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said April 3 that Syria would need an initial $10.7 billion to $17.1 billion to revive agricultural production, depending on how the conflict plays out.

It estimated that the war has caused more than $16 billion in lost crop and livestock production and farming assets.

Since 2011 the FAO has been providing assistance for around 2.4 million Syrians in rural areas and on the outskirts of cities including Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.