Turkey objects to PYD as date for Syria talks remains unclear

Turkey objects to PYD as date for Syria talks remains unclear

Turkey objects to PYD as date for Syria talks remains unclear

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Ankara has objected to the inclusion of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syrian peace talks on the side of the opposition, while the beginning of the peace talks, which were initially planned for Jan. 25, are still unclear. 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said some circles, including Russia, wanted to ruin the Syrian opposition’s position with groups such as the PYD, which he accused of collaborating with the Syrian regime and also attacking opposition groups. 

“As Turkey, we do not recognize any [group] other than the Syria national coalition as the opposition,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported Davutoğlu as saying at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 21. “If others want to be at the table, then they can be on the side of the regime.” 

Davutoğlu said the parties for a solution to the Syrian crisis needed to be defined, which he said were the regime, on the one side, and the opposition, on the other. 

He added that the opposition needed to choose itself who would represent them at the table, adding that no one had the right to impose anything on the opposition. 

Delays for peace talks 

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said the planned start of the peace talks could be delayed by “a day or two” for logistical reasons, but that the process would roughly begin on time.

Kerry said any delay in the U.N.-led negotiations would be due to the sending of invitations to participants. 

“When you say a delay, it may be a day or two for invitations but there is not going to be a fundamental delay,” Kerry told reporters as he sat down to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Associated Press reported.

“The process will begin on the 25th and they will get together and see where we are,” Kerry added. 

Hours later, the U.N. said the talks would likely be delayed by a few days past the scheduled start date.

“It is likely the 25th may slip by a few days for practical reasons,” said Jessy Chahine, a spokeswoman for U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is scheduled to host the talks.

Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Zurich on Jan. 20 in a bid to overcome differences over which Syrian opposition groups would be eligible to attend the talks.

Syria names UN envoy as chief negotiator

Meanwhile, a Syrian government source told AFP on Jan. 21 that the government’s chief negotiator at the peace talks would be Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, with Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Moqdad heading the delegation. 

On the dame day, the Syrian opposition’s chief negotiator, Mohamad Alloush, said the peace talks would not take place if the government did not take humanitarian steps outlined by the U.N. Security Council, including a halt to attacks on civilians and an end to blockades. 

Alloush, who was named chief negotiator on Jan. 20 by the Saudi-backed opposition council, is a member of the politburo of the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), a major rebel faction which Russia considers a terrorist group.

“The session will not take place until the measures are implemented ... While no measures are taken, the chances are zero,” Alloush told Reuters by telephone, referring to humanitarian steps outlined in a Dec. 18 U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed a peace process for Syria.