Syrian opposition sign joint document in Kazakhstan's Astana
After two days of intense talks, 29 out of 37 participants of closed-door meeting finally signed a joint declaration.
One of the major issues stipulated in the document was holding parliamentary elections in the war-torn country in 2016 under international supervision and ensuring safety of all the candidates. "Syrian citizens should be eligible to fully exercise their right to vote - to elect or to be elected - regardless of whether they live in the country or abroad," the declaration said.
Besides, opposition groups also called to reform the army and security structures as well as to fight against "all forms of terrorism, wherever it might come from".
However, the participants failed to reach a consensus concerning the recent air strikes of Russian forces against IS centers in Syria, conducted at the request of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, therefore, this issue was not put into the document.
According to the mediator of the conference and director of the French Center for Political and Foreign Affairs Fabien Baussart, Astana-2 initiative was not aimed against the Assad regime, but was intended to help find a solution to the protracted conflict in Syria "for the sake of this country's people".
Moreover, he believes that the talks in Astana could serve as a good basis for the preparation to the third round of Geneva talks backed by the United Nations also aimed at ending the civil war by bringing together the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to determine clear steps towards a transitional government for Syria with full executive powers. "This could be a preparation for the Geneva-3. In this case, I am speaking for myself, not on behalf of the Kazakh government. I believe that all the opposition groups that participated in the talks in Astana should support the efforts of UN Special Envoy on Syria Stefan de Mistura," he said.
"Even if the Geneva-3 is not held, Astana-2 can still proceed with concrete initiatives suggested by the countries-mediators like Kazakhstan or prominent international players such as Russia and Iran," Boussard concluded.
On Saturday, Syrian opposition declared that they would appeal to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev with a request to serve as a mediator in the settlement of the Syrian crisis. "All participants agreed to ask Nazarbayev for help. It is important for the Kazakh president to start a dialogue with France, Russia and Iran on this issue," a participant of the meeting Mahmoud Afandi said.
Syrian opposition met in Astana before, in May this year, when they eventually inked a joint document, which stressed the need for a united front against terrorism, restoration of the country's army and withdrawal of all the militants who were not citizens of Syria.
They thanked the Kazakh president Nazarbayev and the Kazakh government for providing a platform for dialogue and expressed their willingness to hold the third round of talks in Astana in the next 2-3 months. "We would like to organize the third meeting in Astana during the next 2-3 months, until Christmas, that is December 25," representative of the Syrian Christians for Democracy group Bassam Bitar informed.
By Assel Satubaldina
- Central Asia
- Middle East