New Delhi: Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a meeting in Sochi with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Hassan Rouhani of Iran to share their views on Syrian reconciliation. The three countries previously agreed to be guarantors of the Syrian peace process.
Welcoming his dignitary guests, Putin said the meeting comes at a crucial moment in the Syrian armed conflict when there is an opportunity to end it.
“Large-scale military operations against terrorist gangs in Syria are coming to an end. I should note that the joint efforts of Russia, Iran, and Turkey helped to prevent the disintegration of Syria and its capture by international terrorists and to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. Indeed, militants in Syria have suffered a decisive blow, and now there is a real chance to end the civil war that has lasted many years,” he said.
Rouhani said that the crisis in Syria has been exacerbated from the start and seriously prolonged by the foreign meddling, including “supplying and arming and other forms of support of militant groups. These consequently formed the core of the terrorist groups Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front.”
Erdogan said the three nations had already helped in resolving the situation in Syria to a large degree through the so-called ‘Astana process’ – several rounds of negotiations sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey and hosted by Kazakhstan. “But we don’t consider this result sufficient and believe that all stakeholders must put effort into a political resolution of the conflict, which the Syrian people would accept,” he added.
Putin added that the Syrian people have to decide their future themselves and determine the principles underlying the structure of their government. “Obviously, the reform process will not be easy and will require compromise and concessions from all of its participants, including the Syrian Government. I hope that Russia, Iran, and Turkey will do their utmost to make this work productive. I am sure that success of the forthcoming reforms will largely depend on resolving Syria’s socio-economic issues: the restoration of industry, agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare systems and education,” he said.
Putin hosted Assad in Sochi on Monday and insisted that he was committed to a peace process, constitutional reform and free elections.