Turkey, Iran and Russia top diplomats to meet in Antalya for Syria
The Turkish, Iranian and Russian foreign ministers will meet this weekend in the southern province of Antalya, in preparation for a leaders’ summit on Nov. 22 in the Russian city of Sochi on efforts to cement a truce in Syria.
“There will be a trilateral summit in Sochi on Nov. 22. Ahead of this meeting, [all three countries’] high-ranking bureaucrats and experts will meet. Likewise, the foreign ministers of the three countries will meet in Antalya on the weekend,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said late on Nov. 16.
The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that the meeting will convene on Nov. 19 in Antalya with the participation of Çavuşoğlu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The meeting will come three days before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin come together in Sochi.
Recalling that the ongoing Astana process has provided an extended ceasefire in Syria, Çavuşoğlu underlined the necessity for a “sustainable political resolution” in order to preserve these achievements.
“Firstly, we will evaluate what we have done so far, the point we have reached, and the steps that we can take from now on. How can we restore stability and peace in Syria? How can we integrate the Astana and Geneva [processes]? We will continue our work intensively in the framework of the agreement of the leaders,” he said.
Participants from the three guarantor countries will focus on a political solution for the Syrian crisis, Çavuşoğlu said earlier in the day in parliament.
‘YPG must be cleared from Afrin’
President Erdoğan recently stressed that the Sochi summit will focus on the latest developments in Afrin and Idlib, where Turkey has set up “observation spots” as part of the de-escalation zones plan under the Astana Process.
“Afrin is much more important for us because it has a border with us. Around 50 percent of the population is Arab. Our Arab brothers who live in camps [in Turkey] are returning to their homes. In one part [of Afrin] there are Kurds and in another one there are Turkmens,” Erdoğan said.
“What we must do is to cleanse Afrin of terror organizations, the PYD and the YPG,” he added, referring to the Democratic Union Party and its militia the People’s Protection Units. Turkey considers both groups as offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“We have been seriously disappointed by the fact that America has not kept many of its promises to us. We don’t want to face the same situation again in Afrin,” he said.
In an earlier statement, Erdoğan stressed that Russia had “made a promise” on Afrin.
“Russia made us promises about the withdrawal from Afrin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg [in July],” he said.
Erdoğan slams US over Syria
Reemphasizing his anger over the United States’ ongoing alliance with the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Erdoğan accused Washington of “deliberately leading disagreements between two allies on Syria to a stalemate.”
He particularly cited Raqqa, Manbij and Deir az-Zor, Syrian towns captured by the YPG after ISIL quit.
“Although the previous U.S. government said ‘Don’t worry, neither the PYD nor the YPG will remain in these places,’ they have not kept these promises. Unfortunately, the current administration also tells us it is in cooperation with the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces], the new name of the YPG. They shouldn’t do this. We were here before them and we perfectly know who is who in this region,” Erdoğan stated.