The second day of Syrian peace talks came to an end in Sochi under the auspices of Turkish, Russian, Iranian, and Syrian Government delegations.
The Syrian peace process has moved through several stages and has involved a diverse range of actors. The peace talks have moved between Geneva, Vienna and Astana over the past few years.
The talks that have taken place this week were held in Astana and brought together representatives of the Syrian Regime, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. This series of talks in Astana was initiated at the end of 2016 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, the talks have focused on the “establishment of a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned constitutional committee” within the framework of the Geneva process and in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 2254 of 2015.
The guarantor countries, Russia, Turkey and Iran, also spoke about a range of other issues including the return of Syrian refugees. Russia representative, Alexander Lavrentiev, was notably focused on the issue, highlighting the need to create the conditions to facilitate their return. Lavrentiev also appealed to the European Union to work with Russia on the matter.
There has been an emphasis on the unwillingness to allow any form of “separatism” in the country, which now mainly refers to the northern areas of the country under the political control of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), as well as rebel-held areas, especially in Idlib Province, which is believed to be the next target for the regime’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The Syrian peace talks began back in 2012 in Geneva, which convened the International Working Group on Syria that includes the United Nations, the Arab League, Russia, the United States, the European Union as well as other Arab and Western countries.
The second round of Geneva negotiations between the Syrian Government and the Opposition delegations was held in 2014 in the presence of 40 countries and organisations, but ended without any progress. The spread of ISIS in Syria and worsening relations between Damascus and the Opposition hindered any progress throughout the subsequent Geneva talks.
The main takeaway from the past Astana peace talks has been the establishment of de-escalation zones in various parts of Syria.