ASTANA – Thanks to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's timely support of the Astana process, the Syrian talks participants managed to overcome many problems and achieve significant results in restoring stability and peace in the country, said Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov during the plenary session on the outcomes of the sixth high-level meeting on Syria within the Astana process held on September 14-15, 2017.
«From the very start of the crisis, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has consistently talked to the parties to the conflict in an effort to persuade them to come to the negotiation table and urged them to seek diplomatic solutions because military means only exacerbate the situation. Now the Astana talks have made it possible to turn differences and disagreements into a start of successful and productive cooperation among the parties involved," said the Foreign Minister.
By all accounts, the effective functioning of the de-escalation zones has significantly reduced the scale and level of violence in Syria. This is one of major tangible results of the Astana negotiation process. We believe the process launched in Astana with the aim of strengthening the ceasefire regime will have a positive impact on the upcoming Geneva talks under the auspices of the United Nations, said the Kazakh side.
The sixth round of the Astana Process brought together delegations of the government of Syria and the Syrian armed opposition, the guarantor states of the cessation of hostilities – Iran, Russia and Turkey as well as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Staffan de Mistura, and high representatives of Jordan and the United States.
At the plenary session, the Kazakh Foreign Minister presented the text of the Joint Statement of Iran, Russia and Turkey. The document states satisfaction with the implementation of the Astana Memorandum of May 4, 2017 on establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria. The sixth round of the Astana process established “de-escalation zones in East Gut, in some parts in the north of Homs, Idlib and the neighbouring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, as well as in certain areas in the south of Syria." According to the joint statement, establishment of de-escalation and security zones is a temporary measure for the duration of initially 6 months with an automatic extension based on a consensus among the guarantors. “Under no circumstances will the establishment of these de-escalation zones undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic," says the document.
Iran, Russia and Turkey are deploying forces to control de-escalation based on maps agreed on September 8 in Ankara and in accordance with the Mandate developed by the Joint Working Group on De-escalation to deploy de-escalation control forces on a temporary basis in the security belt of de-escalation zones in Idlib province and in certain parts of the neighboring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo to prevent incidents and clashes between the conflicting parties.
According to the document, a joint Iran-Russia- Turkey coordinating centre is being established to coordinate actions of de-escalation control forces. The guarantor countries noted “the progress in the fight against terrorism and elimination of ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and all other individuals, groups, enterprises and organizations associated with Al-Qaida or ISIL as a result of the functioning of these de-escalation zones" and confirmed their determination “to take all necessary measures to continue to fight them both inside and outside de-escalation zones."
The statement noted the need for confidence-building measures by the conflicting parties, including through release of detainees / hostages, transfer of bodies of the deceased and a search for missing persons with the aim of creating better conditions for a political process and a sustained cease-fire.
The guarantor countries called upon the observers to the Astana Process and other interested members of the international community to support the process of de-escalation and stabilisation in Syria, including through provision of additional assistance to population, facilitation of humanitarian demining, preservation of historical heritage, restoration of life support facilities, social and economic infrastructure.
The statement urges the conflicting parties, representatives of the Syrian opposition and civil society “to take advantage of the emerging favourable conditions and provide an impetus to an intra-Syrian dialogue and promotion of a political process under the auspices of the UN in Geneva, as well as other initiatives."
The guarantor states “express their gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the Kazakh authorities for hosting the 6th International High-Level Meeting on Syria in Astana."
The next meeting of the Astana process will be held in late October this year.
Joint statement by Iran, Russia and Turkey on the International Meeting on Syria in Astana
14-15 September 2017
The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic (hereinafter referred to as “Guarantors"):
- reaffirming their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic;
- guided by the provisions of UNSC resolution 2254 (2015);
- welcoming the significant reduction of violence on the ground in Syria as a result of measures aimed at maintaining and strengthening the ceasefire regime:
1. Express their satisfaction with the progress in implementation of the Memorandum on the creation of de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic of 4 May 2017;
2. Announce the creation of the de-escalation areas according to the Memorandum of 4 May 2017 in eastern Ghouta, in certain parts in the north of Homs province, in Idlib province and certain parts of the neighbouring provinces (Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces) and also in certain parts of southern Syria (based on the Russian Federation initiative as a Guarantor of the Astana process, with the aim to ensure the ceasefire regime, territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and continue fight against terrorism).
3. Emphasize again that the creation of the de-escalation areas and security zones is a temporary measure the duration of which will initially be 6 months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus of the Guarantors.
4. Emphasize that under no circumstances the creation of the abovementioned de-escalation areas undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
5. Allocate the de-escalation control forces of the three Guarantors on the basis of the maps agreed upon in Ankara on 8 September 2017 and in accordance with the Terms of Reference for deployment of deescalation control forces prepared by the Joint Working Group on deescalation on a temporary basis in the security zone in the de-escalation area in Idlib province and certain parts of the neighbouring provinces (Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces) with the aim to prevent incidents and clashes between the conflicting parties (the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition groups that have joined and will join the ceasefire regime).
6. Form Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center aimed at coordinating activities of de-escalation control forces in the de-escalation areas.
7. Emphasize progress in the fight against terrorism and elimination of DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as a result of the launch of the above-mentioned de-escalation areas and reaffirm their determination to take all necessary measures to continue the fight against them within and outside the de-escalation areas.
8. Emphasize the need for the conflicting parties to take confidencebuilding measures, including the release of detainees/abductees and the handover of the bodies as well as identification of missing persons, to create better conditions for political process and lasting ceasefire.
9. Underscore the need to make use of the de-escalation areas for rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and recall, in this regard, the relevant provisions of the Memorandum of 4 May 2017.
10. Call upon the observers of the Astana process and other interested members of the international community to support the process of de-escalation and stabilization in Syria, inter alia by sending additional aid to the Syrian people, facilitating the humanitarian mine action, preserving historical heritage, restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities;
11. Call upon the conflicting parties, representatives of the Syrian opposition and civil society to use emerging favorable conditions to step up efforts to give impetus to the intra-Syrian dialogue and advance the UN-led political process in Geneva as well as other initiatives, and to do so on an urgent basis;
12. Reaffirm their determination to continue implementing the provisions of the Memorandum of 4 May 2017 and other decisions adopted earlier within the framework of the Astana process.
13. Express their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Kazakh authorities for hosting in Astana the 6th high-level International Meeting on Syria.
14. Decide to hold the next high-level International Meeting on Syria in Astana in the end of October 2017.