Turkey, Russia, Iran call for ‘viable, Syrian-led’ political process in Geneva

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES  – ISTANBUL  – 18 Dec 2018 – Published 7 min ago

Turkey, Russia and Iran called for the launch of a “viable and lasting Syrian-led, Syrian-owned and U.N.-facilitated political process” after talks in Geneva on Tuesday, saying that a new Syrian Constitutional Committee should convene early next year.

In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after the trio met U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, they said that the work of the new body “should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement”.

De Mistura stayed away from their press event and was to address reporters separately.Russia and Iran have backed Bashar Assad and his regime during nearly eight years of civil war, while Turkey supports the opposition.The constitutional committee that will discuss the reform process is to be composed of government and opposition representatives, as well as a group of civil society figures selected by the United Nations. Disagreements about this third group had until now been holding up the process to set up the committee.

The announcement came after Syria’s warring sides and mediators last month failed to agree on the formation of the committee, which is seen as key to ending Syria’s seven-year civil war.

During the Syrian peace conference in late January in Sochi, the formation of a committee to develop recommendations to amend the Syrian constitution was agreed upon.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to U.N. officials.Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the government and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.