Astana process: prospects of peace talks
International negotiations on Syrian conflict settlement have come to an end in Astana. The Syrian government and Syria’s armed opposition, delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attended the meeting held behind closed doors. As the Kazakh President stressed in his address to the participants of the Astana Process, “the peace talks are the only way to resolve the conflict in Syria”. The Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Abdrakhmanov delivered the President’s speech.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, KAZAKH MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
Kazakhstan is a peace-loving state and the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is interested in strengthening and promoting security and stability in the Middle East. Today’s meeting is a clear manifestation of the international communities’ efforts directed to peaceful settlement of the situation in Syria.
On the second day of the talks, the participants went into separate rooms, and negotiations continued with the help of the intermediaries. Political analysts believe that the consent to have a dialogue is a big step in resolving the conflict. The Astana process was attended by representatives of major opposition groups. The main requirement that was voiced by the opposition to the Syrian government and the countries involved in the settlement of the Syrian conflict was to cease fire in Syria.
ISSAM AL-REIS, SYRIAN OPPOSITION’S DELEGATION MEMBER:
We are here to pave the way for the political solution. And we are not the people, who are going to political solution as I clarified. I told you we are the Free Syrian Army. We are just working on the military issues. There are political figures and politicians, who are going to focus on Geneva.
The Astana Process has attracted the attention of the world media. 320 foreign reporters arrived in the Kazakh capital to cover the progress of the negotiations. 120 Kazakhstani journalists were accredited. A reporter from Syria monitored the peace negotiations. Not only the authorities, but the Syrian people place high hopes to the negotiations.
ALLA IBRAHIM, JOURNALIST, SYRIA:
Six years of conflict, the situation in Syria is very difficult for the majority of the residents of the country, who suffer from very difficult circumstances, as we travelled from Damascus in this capital, me and my colleagues, who live in Damascus. Damascus had been without water for 28 days after militant groups, radical groups have taken control of the water supply of Damascus and the western countryside of the capital.
According to experts, talks were held with “cautious optimism”, but quite fruitfully. Following the meeting, the guarantor countries reached an understanding of the content of the final tripartite document on the consolidation of the cease-fire. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced that while organizing Astana process, the state did not pursue any political dividends. The only goal was to contribute to ending the bloody war in Syria.
SANAT KUSHKUMBAYEV, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, KAZAKHSTAN INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES:
Kazakhstan aims, first of all, to make a contribution to the stabilization of the situation in Syria. We provide a platform as a neutral party. We are not a party to the negotiations, and in this case, the success of the negotiations depends on the contracting parties.
The Astana process is not an alternative to the Geneva negotiations scheduled for February 8. This is just one of its complementary elements. However, political scientists believe that the results of the Astana process will affect the future course of the negotiations in Switzerland.