Turkey wants Syria deadline in Geneva

Turkey wants Syria deadline in Geneva

Turkey wants Syria deadline in Geneva

Members of Lebanon’s of Hezbollah movement salute during the funeral of their comrade Saleh Ahmad Sabbagh in the Lebanese port city of Sidon. AFP photo

Turkey is working with key actors to prevent the Syrian regime from using negotiations as a tool to gain time for suppression.

Turkey is paying attention to three parameters for the upcoming international Geneva conference, which is expected to kick off in mid-June to find a diplomatic solution to Syria’s civil war, with top priority of setting “a deadline” to the negotiation process between the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, concerned that al-Assad could turn the process into an exercise to gain time, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The U.S. and Turkey are in agreement on the need to set a deadline at the Geneva negotiations in order to avoid an open-ended exercise for the Syrian regime, an issue discussed during the visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Washington last week.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that the duration of the forthcoming conference should not be limited.

“Some of our partners… think a few days or weeks is long enough. I consider this counterproductive,” Lavrov said.

The mutual consent of the parties on the composition of a transitional government is another parameter priority for Ankara.

The new transitional government must have “full executive power,” meaning “delegation of all executive state powers of the current administration to a new transitional governing body for Syria,” including institutions such as the army and intelligence, the diplomat said.

A new governing body for Syria can only be achieved with al-Assad leaving power, according to Ankara.

The target of negotiations and its modalities should be clarified, the diplomat said prior to the meeting of core ministerial members of the Friends of Syria group in Amman.

In the run-up to the Amman meeting and days after a decisive White House meeting, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu conducted hectic telephone diplomacy. He initiated separate telephone conversations with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) late May 21.

The minister exchanged views on the Syria issue, particularly about the upcoming Geneva conference in the aftermath of Erdoğan’s talks in Washington last week, a Turkish official said.