No: 89, 22 April 2020, Press Release Regarding the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Astana Process

The seventh meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Iran and the Russian Federation, the guarantors of the Astana Process, which was initiated to reduce armed conflict in Syria and to find a lasting solution to the conflict, was held on 22 April 2020 via teleconference.

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria, developments on the ground, particularly in Idlib and the east of the Euphrates, the political process, humanitarian situation and return of refugees were discussed in the meeting. Commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity was emphasized.

In the meeting, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu underlined the importance attached by Turkey to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in Syria and, to that end, the necessity to increase coordinated international efforts. In this context, Minister Çavuşoğlu emphasized the need for the uninterrupted continuation of humanitarian assistance activities towards Syria via Turkey.

The parties expressed their satisfaction in the decrease of tension in Idlib thanks to the Additional Protocol of 5 March 2020 to the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-escalation Area. Minister Çavuşoğlu emphasized the importance of making the ceasefire established by the Additional Protocol a lasting one, shared information about the steps taken by Turkey to this end and underlined that lasting ceasefire constitutes a fundamental necessity to advance the political process.

Minister Çavuşoğlu briefed his counterparts on Turkey’s stabilization activities in the field, following Turkey’s disruption of the fait-accomplis by the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in east of the Euphrates. Minister Çavuşoğlu expressed Turkey’s concerns on the ongoing acts of terror by PKK/YPG and continued attempts to legitimize it as a result of the failure to fully remove PKK/YPG from the regions as foreseen by the Memorandum of Understanding of 22 October 2019.

The parties stressed the importance of furthering the political process in line with the UN Security Council resolution 2254 and expressed their wish that the third round of the Constitutional Committee meetings could be held at the earliest possible time with the facilitation of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen. Minister Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey’s expectation of concrete progress in the third round of the Constitutional Committee meetings in accordance with its mandate.

In order to ensure viable progress in the political process, Minister Çavuşoğlu also emphasized the importance given by Turkey to implementing confidence-building measures between the Syrian parties. In this context, Turkey’s support was expressed to the continuation of the activities of the Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons.

At the meeting, Minister Çavuşoğlu also indicated that Turkey would continue the necessary work on the return of Syrian refugees displaced due to the conflict. Turkey’s readiness to work with its Astana partners on this issue was also highlighted.