Turkey to urge for cease-fire in Syria ahead of Geneva talks

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 4.1.2014 – Turkey will appeal for a cease-fire in Syria ahead of Geneva peace talks as the Syrian opposition expresses that they are hesitant to attend the gathering because the al-Assad regime has increased its attacks against civilians, particularly in Aleppo. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is set to discuss whether a truce can be achieved in Syria for the sake of Geneva II with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif during the latter’s visit to Turkey on Jan. 4.

Turkey would also raise the issue if the core group of Friends of Syria gathered before Geneva II, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding this was so the Syrian opposition could attend the peace talks “in a positive atmosphere.” After months of delays, a Jan. 22 date for the meeting has been set, but doubts remain about whether the conference will go ahead.

Meeting with Davutoğlu on Jan. 2, a delegation from opposition Syrian National Coalition, headed by chairman Ahmad al-Jarba, expressed their concerns on mounting violence by al-Assad and said a cease-fire would relieve their position in order to participate in the Geneva II meeting. In November, Davutoğlu and Zarif stressed that they agreed on achieving a cease-fire for the success of the Geneva II meeting. The opposition group also stressed that Syrian people could not accept for Bashar al-Assad to play an active role in the Syrian administration and peace talks could succeed only if those realities were taken into account. The group said it would make its final decision at the upcoming plenary meeting of the National Coalition. Ankara urged the Syrian opposition to attend Geneva II so that they could express their perspectives at the meeting, the diplomat said.