Talks in Astana will give green light to the peace process in Syria

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Talks in Astana will give green light to the peace process in Syria
It is important to clarify some of Russia's approaches to the negotiations between representatives of the Syrian Government and armed opposition groups in Astana on January 23.

We believe that the best is to limit the number of foreign participants to representatives of the countries-guarantors of the ceasefire - Russia, Turkey and Iran. The new US administration has been invited too. We hope that Deputy Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General R.Ramzi will act as a mediator at the talks.

The meeting in Astana is not a substitute for the intra-Syrian talks, which begin on February 8 in Geneva. On the contrary, it will contribute to the further development of the negotiation process by inviting the representatives of the armed opposition, who have real influence "on the ground." We hope that they will also agree to participate in the Geneva talks as an equal and permanent member of the united delegation of the Syrian opposition.

On the agenda – discussions on strengthening the ceasefire, delivering humanitarian aid, building confidence, ensuring free movement of citizens throughout the country except in areas controlled by the terrorists, who are not a party to any agreement and must be defeated as endorsed by the UNSC resolutions.

We hope that a substantive discussion of the modalities of the constitutional reform in Syria will be launched, including the creation of the Constitutional Commission to get the work on a new Constitution started. The members of this Commission will include representatives of both the government and the various political opposition groups, which is provided for in the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

We hope that the meeting in Astana will contribute to the peace process in Syria and strengthen counter-terrorism efforts.

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