Presidents Hassan Rouhani, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Tehran on September 7 to discuss the final battlefront in Idlib province and Syria's political future. The summit is their third on Syria. In November 2017, they met in Sochi, Russia, and in April 2018 they met in Ankara, Turkey. Their countries have played the leading roles in the Astana peace process, a series of talks launched in 2017 to complement to those held in Geneva.
Territorial control and positions of major players in the Syrian province of Idlib and surrounding areas on August 29, 2018 pic.twitter.com/yPBnk1webN— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 30, 2018
Iran and Russia are committed to destroying the jihadist groups based in Idlib. Syrian forces are set to launch an assault in the northwest province. But Turkey, which has outposts there and connections to some of the rebel groups, has been concerned about the humanitarian fallout and the possibility that civilians flee towards its border. “A military solution there will cause catastrophe,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned in August. “Civilians will be harmed. Where will the 3.5 million civilians go?” Between 2011 and mid-2018, Turkey has absorbed some 3.4 million Syrian refugees, whose presence has increased social and economic pressures.
During the Tehran summit, President Putin called for the establishment of a U.N.-monitored constitutional committee. President Rouhani demanded that U.S. forces withdraw from Syria. The Tehran summit’s joint statement reaffirmed several points that were made in the previous tripartite meetings. The three leaders emphasized the need to eliminate terrorist elements, to advance the political process towards a settlement, ensure Syrian sovereignty, and protect civilians.
Just before the presidents were about to pass the final statement, Erdogan proposed including a ceasefire in the text. Putin said that adding such language was not possible given that the armed groups were not represented at the table. He warned that the militants in Idlib were planning “provocations” that might include the use of chemical weapons. Putin and Rouhani said that terrorists needed to lay down their arms. A ceasefire was not included in the final statement.
The following are excerpted remarks by the three leaders from the summit and since their April 2018 meeting.
Joint Statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of Turkey
Tehran, 7 September 2018
- Expressed their satisfaction with the achievements of the Astana format since January 2017, in particular, the progress made in reducing violence across the Syrian Arab Republic and contributing to peace, security and stability in the country.
- Emphasized their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and highlighted that they should be respected by all. They reiterated that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine these principles. They rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighbouring countries.
- Discussed the current situation on the ground, took stock of the developments regarding the Syrian Arab Republic following their last meeting in Ankara on 4 April 2018 and agreed to continue trilateral coordination in accordance with their agreements. In this regard, they took up the situation in Idlib de-escalation area and decided to address it in line with the above-mentioned principles and the spirit of cooperation that characterized the Astana format.
- Reaffirmed their determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, as they have been designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council. They underlined that, in the fight against terrorism, separation between the above-mentioned terrorist groups and the armed opposition groups that had joined or would join the ceasefire regime, would be of utmost importance including with respect to preventing civilian casualties.
- Reaffirmed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only end through a negotiated political process. They reaffirmed their determination to continue active cooperation with a view to advancing the political process in consistence with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
- Reaffirmed their resolve to continue joint efforts aimed at advancing the Syrian led and Syrian-owned process for reaching a political settlement and reiterated their commitment to help establish and launch the work of the Constitutional Committee. They expressed their satisfaction with the useful consultations between their senior officials and the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria.
- Emphasized the need to support all efforts to help all Syrians restore their normal and peaceful life and to alleviate their sufferings. In this regard, they called upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies, to increase their assistance to Syria by providing additional humanitarian aid, facilitating humanitarian mine action, restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities, and preserving historical heritage.
- Reaffirmed their determination to continue joint efforts aimed at protecting civilians and improving the humanitarian situation via facilitating rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all Syrians in need.
- Highlighted the need to create conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria. To this end, they emphasized the necessity of coordination among all relevant parties, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other specialized international agencies. They agreed to consider the idea of convening an international conference on Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
- Welcomed the progress of the work of the Working Group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of the missing persons, as undertaken with the participation of the UN and ICRC experts.
- Decided to hold their next meeting in the Russian Federation upon the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin.
- The Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E. Hassan Rouhani for hosting the Tripartite Summit in Tehran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s presence in Syria is at the request of the Syrian government and to fight terrorism in the country, and the continuation of this presence will be on this basis. At the same time, this presence, neither in the past nor in the presence, has not been -and will not be- aimed at imposing its opinion, and will support the will of the Syrian people as a friendly nation.
“On the other hand, combatting terrorism requires a comprehensive approach by taking into account all aspects of this unpleasant phenomenon. With the same viewpoint, the fight against terrorism in Idlib is an integral part of the mission of restoring peace and stability to Syria, but this combat must not hurt the civilians and lead to the policy of burning land. We are fighting for peace, and war for war is, in our view, the wrong way that groups and terrorist regimes have taken. The ultimate goal, be it in Syria or in the whole region, is peace, but to achieve a lasting peace we have no choice but to fight terrorism.
“No plan for combatting terrorism can be complete without paying attention to its origins. Those responsible for occupation, terrorism, aggression, foreign interference and discrimination, such as the United States and the Zionist Regime, and some other sponsors of terrorism, cannot change their position from the accused to the plaintiff by hurling accusations. The Zionist Regime, as an occupational regime that is based on ethnic and religious discrimination, whose existence has been formed with occupation, aggression and instability, cannot claim to be fighting terrorism, and the immediate withdrawal of this occupying regime from the occupied territories of Syria is the common desire of all the Syrians in accordance with international conventions.
“Obviously, we should not expect the US administration, with its illegal presence in Syria and acts of aggression and occupation and supporting of the apartheid Zionist Regime, to play a positive and constructive role in this regard. The United States’ illegal interference in Syria is not consistent with any international law and it adds to the existing problems in the country and poses a serious challenge to achieving lasting peace in Syria.
“Dear colleagues, the continuation of the presence of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries will have a negative impact on them; therefore, we should provide the ground for their immediate return to their home land. The international community should help the Syrian government to rebuild Syria. The return of refugees and reconstruction of Syria will undoubtedly contribute to the ceasefire and national dialogue and accelerate the process of reconciliation in the country.
“In any solution to the future of Syria, the Syrian people have the main and ultimate role, and the efforts of the United Nations and the representatives of the three countries solely guarantee the peace process in continuous interaction with the Syrians to help the Syrians and provide the foundation for the constitutional committee, continued combatting terrorism, humanitarian relief, the return of refugees, the reconstruction of Syria, and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Syria.
“In outlining the future of Syria, the ethnic and religious diversity of the Syrian society must be considered and respected away from pressure, threat, or interference of foreigners. The bitter experience of foreign interference in Libya and the collapse of the Libyan government and political system, and the experience of sending weapons and terrorism to destroy Syria is enough for the Syrian people and the nations of the region and the world to confront with any kind of foreign interference and pressure. As a democracy in the region, we believe that the path of democracy does not go through the gun barrel. Freedom is a social, popular, and national demand, and any kind of militarism creates a false sense of violence, whether in the form of terrorism or in the form of external interference.
“Dear guests, the world, and especially our region, has paid a lot of human and material costs due to foreign interference and unilateral and adventurous policies of some governments, and the experience of the failure of foreign military interference in Syria in the past, outline the future status of the Yemeni crisis and other similar crises in the region, and the world. At the same time, the eradication of terrorism and military dominance alone cannot guarantee the continuation of stability and peace in the future of Syria and other countries facing crises in the region and the world, but rather the dialogue of the people of each country with the acceptance of the concept of national participation and the recognition of the diversity of different political and social approaches can be a reliable point for the future.
“We have come a long and difficult way. Now, considering the bitter and sweet experiences of the past, we believe that there is still a not-so-short path to the end of the crisis. Facilitating the work of constitutional committees and the exchange of detainees, the return of refugees and designing a framework for healing the wounds of the people affected by the dark years of crisis and, ultimately, the reconstruction of Syria, are among the pivotal steps ahead.
“Our cooperation in resolving the Syrian crisis can be a model for cooperation in resolving other crises in the region. Our region can be free of threats, occupation, militarism and racial and religious discrimination. The cooperation of the three countries can be a reliable basis for restoring peace in Syria and long-term cooperation at the regional and global levels. At the end, I would like to emphasize once again that:
- In any political dialogue for ending the Syrian crisis, the territorial integrity and independence of Syria must be respected.
- It is necessary to continue the fight against terrorism to eradicate all terrorist groups in Syria, especially in Idlib.
- In the current situation, assistance for the return of refugees and reconstruction of Syria should be on the agenda of the international community. The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to play its constructive role in this regard.
- The presence and illegal interference of the United States in Syria, which has led to the continuation of insecurity in that country, must be ended immediately.
- The international community is obliged to confront the actions of the Zionist Regime, in particular the continuation of the occupation of the regime against the land and the existence of the Syrian nation and government, which continues to extend its scope every day.
- While respecting the valuable efforts of the three countries to resolve the Syrian crisis, it is essential for the three countries to continue to cooperate and coordinate to establish full peace and stability in Syria.
—Sept. 7, 2018, during the tripartite summit in Tehran
“This summit has been held at a time when the US is considering a new accusation against the Syrian government, by which it is looking a new illegal intervention in the country.”
“Iran stresses stopping intervention of powers such as the US and the Zionist Regime, and all our friends agree with us in the fact that foreign intervention in Syria can add to the complications in the country and inflict more suffering on the Syrian people.”
“In Idlib, on the one hand many terrorists of the Al-Nusra Front and even ISIS and terrorist groups are staging terrorist acts against the security of the people of Syria, and on the other hand, there are concerns about eradicating these terrorists due to the dense population in these regions.”
“Presidents of the three countries agreed that terrorist must be encouraged to put an immediate end to armed action by putting down their weapons, because their actions can be dangerous for the Syrians, especially Idlib.”
“The issue of the Syrian refugees in different countries and their return, the exchange of prisoners, as well as the reconstruction of Syria, was underlined by all three countries, and these are the steps to be taken for the future of Syria.”
“Today, in various parts of Syria, the terrorists have been pushed out of the areas they had occupied, and the Syrian government has settled on its own territory, and in the whole region, there is hope that in the near future there will be a lot of peace and security in Syria that is very important for our entire region and for the three countries that have met today in Tehran.”
“This process must be continued until we reach the end of the road, which means that establishment of democracy in Syria, return of the refugees and complete security and peace in Syria, and we will continue our efforts.”
“The three countries will continue their efforts for peace and security in Syria and the region, which is our ultimate goal.”
—Sept. 7, 2018, after the tripartite summit in Tehran
“Bilateral and multilateral cooperation of Iran and Russia in different regional and international matters, including regional security and fighting terrorism and ISIS in Syria have had positive regional effects and this cooperation should continue until the full eradication of terrorism.”
—August 12, 2018 in a meeting with President Putin at the Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan
“Today, Astana dialogues are underway with Iran, Russia and Turkey taking part. The main goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria is to strike ISIS hard and we succeeded in defeating ISIS in the first step despite extensive support of the Zionist Regime and the US and we will stand by the Syrian people in their fight against other terrorist groups until the final victory.”
—July 4, 2018, during a conference in Vienna with Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
“About 15 months ago, Iran, Russia and Turkey shaped the Astana process in order to have further success in the fight against terrorism, to combat religious and ethnic differentiation; to shut down the flames of conflict and finally to bring about a comprehensive peace in Syria, and have seriously pursued it since then. Determining the four de-escalation areas to reduce tensions in Syria could, after 6 years, be able to cushion the conflicts in various parts of the settlement of the major part of the Syrian population and strengthen the will of the opposing Syrian parties to stop the conflict.
“Here, I deem it necessary to emphasize the key role of the three countries in ensuring the Astana process. If the three countries did not have the necessary coordination, and if the Syrian government did not have the right cooperation with the Astana process, we would now face a much more complex situation in Syria. So today, in order to complete this process, we must continue our efforts to establish peace and stability in Syria. Certainly, the valuable role of the Astana process has created a good atmosphere for the United Nations to play its role in this regard.
“Although some governments have been sabotaging the Astana process since the beginning, international initiatives to resolve the Syrian crisis have, directly or indirectly, benefited from the Astana process, and even some of the provisions of the Security Council had already been coordinated by the three guarantors in the Astana process.
Although ISIL, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups have been seriously undermined and are on the brink of destruction, but unfortunately, some have continued to arm and use them, and have enabled terrorists to make their brutal acts against the Syrian people, including the residents of Damascus. The ongoing threat against the Syrian government for being subjected to foreign military action, the unceasing pressure to stop the crackdown on terrorist groups and the lack of attention to the balanced implementation of all paragraphs of Resolution 2401 has led to the ineffectiveness of this resolution and increased pressure on the Syrian people.
Without a doubt, part of the pressure on the Syrian people is the result of the performance greedy western governments, especially the United States, in a way that one can unfortunately say that the lives, property, honor and the entire existence of the Syrian people are, in their view, something that is worthy only when their interests are in danger.
“The U.S. government should answer the question of what it is doing in Syria, thousands of miles away from its territory. At whose invitation are American soldiers are present in Syria? US’ Illegal presence and military intervention in Syria is aimed at increasing tension and ultimately fragmentation of the country. Syrians, who were successful in the war against the terrorists, do not by any means allow foreign powers to break up their country and will resolutely fight this.
“On the other hand, the Zionist Regime's daily support for terrorists in Syria and the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity have increased the complexity of the crisis. The international community should not be indifferent to these crimes and other crimes of the Zionist Regime, including against the Palestinian people who were recently slaughtered during peaceful demonstrations.
“Since our previous meeting in Sochi, there have been important political and field developments in Syria. The most significant development in the political field is the holding of the first session of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue with the participation of representatives of various political and social groups on January 30, 2018 in Sochi and the final statement approved by the Congress, which, if the process of following up and implementation of the decisions are properly managed, in particular with regard to the formation of the committee for reviewing issues related to the reform of the constitution of Syria, can be taken as an effective step towards restoring peace and stability to Syria. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to ensure the implementation of the decisions made in the Congress and the formation of the committee in an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation by avoiding rush and imposing of the will of the foreign forces on the Syrian side.
“The clashes in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin in northern Syria are among the most important developments in the field between the two summits of the Astana process. The first development with the new agreements has led to the withdrawal of armed groups from major parts of the region and can be a step towards restoring stability and stability to Syria with the help to maintain security in the capital and its residents. Developments in Afrin undermined the plans of some powers to exploit ethnic and racial differences in the path of fragmentation of Syria and other countries in the region, but it can help achieve our common goals in the Astana process only if it does not lead to violation of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Syria, and the control of these areas is at the Syrian army’s hand, which, despite current confrontations, remains the symbol of national sovereignty of this country.
“For further success of the joint efforts of the three countries, I would like to emphasize more coordination between the three countries on the basis of the following common principles:
1. The Syrian crisis does not have a military solution or one that is imposed from outside, and the future of Syria will only be achieved through democratic elections by the Syrian people. From the outset of the crisis, the Islamic Republic of Iran has emphasized the unacceptability of a military solution to the Syrian crisis and proposed a four-point plan accordingly. The Syrian National Dialogue Congress has provided a good basis for the start of the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis. The Syrian-Syrian dialogue should continue until a consensual solution, including the necessary amendments to the constitution and the holding of free and fair elections. The involvement of foreigners in determining the type and form of the Syrian government only continues the crisis.
2. The humanitarian situation throughout Syria is terrible, and the international community is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to all parts of Syria. In this regard, without violating Syrian national sovereignty, it must be ensured that the aid is delivered promptly and securely to all points where it is needed. The innocent Syrian citizens, whether they are in Ghouta or Afrin or Foua or Kefraya, must be supported by the global community. At the same time, real efforts to end the Syrian crisis and create the necessary grounds for reconstruction of the country and to provide the grounds for the return the refugees to their place of residence should be addressed by us and the international community. The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to play an effective role in the reconstruction of Syria.
3. The sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity and independence of Syria must be respected in all circumstances. The presence of foreign forces in Syria is illegal without the consent of the government and should be stopped and terminated. The greed of foreign powers for the land of Syria and the attempts to dismember that country is not acceptable under any circumstances and will endanger peace and stability in Syria.
4. It is essential to continue the fight against terrorism in Syria until all terrorist groups are eradicated. The countries that are still hoping for the victory of the terrorists in Syria must come to their senses, and do not put themselves against the Syrian people by stopping helping terrorist groups.
—April 4, 2018, in a statement on tripartite talks in Ankara
Russian President Vladimir Putin
“President Rouhani, President Erdogan, colleagues, First, I would like to thank Mr Rouhani for the invitation to hold our trilateral meeting here in Tehran to discuss further joint steps by Turkey, Iran and Russia related to Syria.
“Let me note that the decisions made at the previous summits of the states–guarantors of the Astana process are being successfully implemented.
“We have made substantive progress in providing long-term normalisation in Syria. The stronghold of terrorism has almost been eradicated. More than 95 percent of Syrian territory has been liberated, 141 residential areas.
“Currently, the remaining extremist groups are concentrated in the de-escalation zone in Idlib province.
“Terrorists are making attempts to torpedo the ceasefire, and, moreover, to prepare and carry out various provocations, including those that involve chemical weapons.
“We can say with confidence that all the opportunities have been created for Syrians to determine the future of their country themselves.
“In this context, I propose discussing further plans to implement step by step the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in Sochi this January. First of all, I am referring to establishing and launching the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, under of the auspices of the United Nations.
“To achieve stable normalization it is necessary to facilitate the improvement of the socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Syria. Peaceful life is being gradually restored, security is being enhanced and civilian employment is growing on the territories returned to Syrian government control.
“In this context, Russia proposed an initiative on international assistance in the return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to Syria. We are pleased to say that this initiative enjoys support from our Iranian and Turkish partners.
“I would like to mention that along with the Centre for Refugee Reception, Allocation and Accommodation in Damascus, Moscow has established Interdepartmental Coordinating Headquarters. In addition, checkpoints have been opened on the border with Jordan and Lebanon. Over 15,000 people have returned home in a month and a half.
“Russia is directly helping Syria on a regular basis by delivering food, medicines and other cargo to areas that were the hardest hit by military actions.
“Overall it would be useful to be consistent in our joint actions in the humanitarian area so as to help Syria rise from ruins, restore its industry, agriculture and infrastructure, thereby making it possible for the Syrians to return home in large numbers.
“Colleagues, let me repeat, that due to the painstaking efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey, Syria is seeing impressive progress. I am confident that today’s talks will be productive, while the adopted decisions will make a tangible contribution to ensuring a final settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
—Sept. 7, 2018, at a tripartite summit in Tehran
“With regard to Syria, restoring peace and harmony in that country could serve as an example of successful joint work. We have all the requisite elements for effective cooperation on Syria. Notably, Russian and American military have gained useful experience of interaction and coordination in the air and on land.”
“I would also like to note that after the terrorists are routed in southwest Syria, in the so-called “southern zone”, the situation in the Golan Heights should be brought into full conformity with the 1974 agreement on the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces. This will make it possible to bring tranquility to the Golan Heights and restore the ceasefire between the Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Israel. The President devoted special attention to this issue today.”
—July 16, 2018, during a summit with President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland
“During our today’s conversation, the President of Syria and I coordinated our joint efforts on fighting terrorism and terrorist organizations in the Syrian Arab Republic; we noted the major progress the Syrian army has made on this front, and concluded that, as of today, conditions are favorable for stepping up the political process. On a related note, the President of Syria has made a decision to send his part of the delegation to form the Constitutional Committee that is supposed to work on the Constitution of Syria. Russia welcomes this decision and will support it in every way, taking into account the agreements reached during the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that took place several months ago in Sochi. Along with stepping up the political process, we believe it is very important to take the necessary steps to rebuild Syria’s economy and to address long overdue and complicated humanitarian issues. We are counting on support from the United Nations and all countries interested in resolving the Syrian crisis.”
—May 17, 2018, in a meeting with President Bashar al Assad in Sochi, Russia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
“It constitutes the essence of the Astana spirit that we displayed the will to meet on the minimum common ground, which is to ensure Syria’s political unity, to protect its territorial integrity and to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict. To this end, we have since the very beginning aimed to stop violence on the ground, improve humanitarian circumstances and to pave the way for a political process. In the same spirit, we even took the field in places like Jarabulus, Al-Bab and Afrin and cleared terrorist elements from the area at the cost of our own troops’ blood and lives. Thus, we worked to prepare the conditions in which refugees can return home by making Syrian lands more secure and ensuring stability and peace.”
“The most critical step taken within the framework of the Astana meetings was the establishment of the de-escalation zones.”
“However, they were dissolved over time one by one under different pretexts. Of the de-escalation zones, there is only Idlib left today.”
“We see that this process, for which we as Turkey have made serious sacrifices, has reached a very risky point. I would like to underline once again that Idlib is of vital importance not only to Syria’s political future but also to our national security and regional peace and stability.”
“We can never agree to leave this region and our country’s veiled guarantee to the mercy of the Assad regime, whose massacres of its own people we still remember. Any attack made or to be made into Idlib, no matter why, will result in catastrophe, massacre and a huge humanitarian tragedy. Over 3.5 million civilians in the region will be affected by it. Tens of thousands will die in bombardments and millions will rush to Turkey’s border since they will have nowhere else to go.”
“Of course, we understand our Russian and Iranian friends’ security concerns, caused by certain terrorist groups in Idlib. Since we are directly contiguous with the region, we feel similar concerns at least as much as you do. However, different methods that require time and patience are needed for an effective fight against terrorists in a place like Idlib where everything is intertwined. We as Turkey have exerted the necessary effort on this matter and are prepared to exert more. We definitely do not want Idlib to turn into a bloodbath. And we expect you, our friends to support us in these efforts.”
“We must find a reasonable way out in Idlib, which pays heed to our shared concerns.”
“We should aim to resolve the issue in a peaceful way which befits the Astana spirit because this is the last opportunity with which Astana’s prestige and reliability will be tested.”
“The understanding we will reach on the fate of Idlib will also shape the future of our cooperation on Syria. I especially ask of you that Turkey’s concerns and determination on this matter be understood correctly.”
“Turkey’s stance is clear on such a matter which very closely concerns the future of our country and the Syrian people whom we consider our brothers and sisters.”
“We are extremely disturbed that although the DAESH threat and danger has ceased, the U.S. continues to strengthen another terrorist organization in the region.”
“The U.S. has sent nearly 20 000 truckloads and 3 000 planeloads of weapons and ammunitions to region, which very clearly shows how strong this terrorist organization have gotten.”
“This situation not only concerns our national security but also poses a threat to Syria’s territorial integrity and future. We should take a joint stand against all attempts targeting Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity, and all kinds of terror, originating in Syria including the PYD/YPG.”
“Turkey is determined to maintain its presence in the region until Syria’s political, geographical and social integrity is truly restored. We cannot allow organizations, which pose a threat to our country’s continuity, to roam free right across our borders. We will continue to take the necessary steps in accordance with the source and size of the threat.”
“We desire a lasting solution to be found in Syria in accordance with the Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council,” President Erdoğan noted. “In this context, we attach importance to completing the formation of a constitutional committee in cooperation with the UN Special Envoy on Syria, preparing the conditions to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible. The Syrian refugees’ return to their country and rebuilding the country can only be discussed in a more meaningful way following these developments. The return process must be managed on a voluntary basis in line with international law and in cooperation with the UN.”
“However, when we look at how many people were killed with chemical weapons, we see 1000-2000-3000-5000 people but when we look at those killed with conventional weapons, there are hundreds of thousands.”
“We are late in taking a stand against those who are killing with conventional weapons while taking a stand against chemical weapons. As long as it causes death, does it matter whether it is chemical or conventional?”
“I hope the Summit will lead to auspicious results for the Syrian people.”
“If we can declare a ceasefire, it will be one of the most important steps of the summit and will bring about significant peace to and relieve civilians. I believe such a step, such a declaration will be a victory for the Summit.”
—Sept. 7, 2018, during the tripartite summit in Tehran
“We, however, are seeking ways to extinguish the fire instead of just sitting back and watching it like others. We are thus sharing the burden.”
“We have focused on the minimum common ground rather than our differences. Sochi, therefore, has served as a catalyst of the efforts exerted in Astana and Geneva for a political solution. It is of great importance that these gains, the fruits of major efforts and sacrifices, be preserved during these critical days we are now going through. We have today reaffirmed our resolve to maintain our cooperation to this end.”
“As Turkey, we have highlighted the dangers that might arise unless the Syrian regime is reined in. We have stated that attacks on Idlib will further aggravate the situation on the ground, bringing on the collapse of the political process.”
“It is of vital importance that civilians in the region be protected, terrorist elements separated and Idlib’s current status preserved. That is so because Idlib is a small model of the entire Syria. Negative effects of any wrong step to be taken in Idlib will be felt everywhere. Methods that disregard the security of Syrian civilians will only play into the hands of terrorists.”
“Turkey has been working to stop the bloodshed in Syria since the very beginning.”
“We have always stood by our Syrian brothers and sisters without any discrimination. Never do we want the people of Idlib, who have sustained grave sufferings, to face new tragedies. This sensitivity of ours lies behind the importance we attach to the summit.”
“The Idlib issue should be resolved in line with the spirit of Astana without giving rise to new sufferings, tensions or troubles. It is important to maintain the principles we have agreed upon in Astana in order to find a sustainable political solution to the Syrian crisis.”
“They will discuss the ongoing preparatory works for establishing a constitutional committee and we have almost come to the final phase. It will add new dynamism to the political process that this committee, which was laid out during the Astana process, is established and becomes functional without delay.”
“As a country which houses over 3.5 million Syrians, we have a positive approach with regard to the voluntary and safe return of the refugees to their homes. To achieve this, however, it is imperative to act in coordination with the UN and create favorable conditions during the political process.”
“It is our desire that a lasting solution be found to the Syrian conflict on the basis of the parameters set out in UNSC Resolution 2254.”
“The responsibility falls to not only the three guarantor states but to the entire international community. It is necessary for all the stakeholders to come together on a common ground for the solution of the Syrian conflict. As Turkey, we will continue our efforts to that end.”
—Sept. 7, 2018, at a press conference during the tripartite summit in Tehran
“It is not for nothing that the only places in Syria where security and peace have been established are under Turkey’s control. God willing, we will establish the same peace in other parts of Syria too. God willing, we will bring the same peace to Iraq, where terrorist organizations are active.”
—August 26, 2018, in a speech in Mus, Turkey
“With the joint operation by U.S., U.K. and France on Saturday, the Syrian regime received the message that its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered. The innocent Syrian people should have been defended long ago.”
—April 14, 2018, in a meeting with supporters
“We are in agreement for restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity, prevention of bloody conflicts and reconstruction of the country’s future. The losing party of the ongoing crisis and conflicts is the Syrians.
“We will not stop until we turn all areas under PYD/YPG’s (Democratic Union Party) control into safe places.”
“The international community should support the efforts for finding a solution to the Syrian issue.”
“Terror must be crushed wherever it exists. Once it is destroyed, you would achieve peace and thus the problem would be solved. As a result, you would proceed on your way as a peaceful and happy society. However, wherever there is terror or terrorist, what falls to the state is to combat terror with all its security forces. Turkey currently has an issue of fight against terror both inside and outside its borders and will keep up its efforts until this problem is fully eliminated.”
“Turkey will not find peace until Syria finds it. We have kin relationship with Syria. As Turkey, we have made the necessary sacrifices during all our operations in Syria and prevented civilian casualties.”
—April 4, 2018, in a statement on tripartite talks in Ankara
“President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gathered in Ankara on 4 April 2018 for a tripartite meeting. The Presidents Took note of the developments regarding Syria since their last meeting on 22 November 2017 in Sochi;
Expressed their satisfaction with the outcomes of the first year of the Astana meetings held since January 2017, underlined that the Astana format had been the only effective international initiative that had helped reduce violence across Syria and had contributed to peace and stability in Syria, giving impetus to the Geneva process in order to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict;
Reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of lasting ceasefire between the conflicting parties and advancement of the political process envisaged by the UN Security Council Resolution 2254;
Emphasized their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character of Syria. They highlighted that none of the actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine these principles, confirmed by relevant UN resolutions and by the will of the representatives of all segments of the Syrian society. They rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries;
Expressed their conviction that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which was convened in Sochi on 30 January 2018, constituted an important milestone in paving the way for the political process, reiterated their commitment to follow up on the results of the Congress, reflecting the will of representatives of all segments of the Syrian society, in particular the agreement to form a Constitutional Committee, supported by the UN Secretary-General and the international community. They reaffirmed their support to facilitate the beginning of the Committee’s work in Geneva as soon as possible with the assistance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria and in coordination with three guarantor states;
Called upon the representatives of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character of Syria as well as the international community to support the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress;
Expressed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be ended only through a negotiated political process;
Reiterated the necessity to assist the Syrians in restoring the unity of their country and in achieving a political solution of the ongoing conflict through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process based on the free will of the Syrian people and leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision;
Reaffirmed their determination to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council in Syria and underscored the success of their collective efforts in the fight against international terrorism;
Underlined that, in the fight against terrorism, separating the above-mentioned terrorist groups from the armed opposition groups that had joined and would join the ceasefire regime bore utmost importance with respect to preventing civilian casualties;
Welcomed the UN Security Council Resolution 2401 in response to the grave humanitarian situation all across Syria, including in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya, Idlib Governorate, Northern Hama Governorate, Rukhban and Raqqa; strongly urged the conflicting parties to comply with the provisions of the said Resolution, including by refraining from ceasefire violations;
Underscored their joint determination to speed up their efforts to ensure calm on the ground and protect civilians in the de-escalation areas as well as to facilitate rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to these areas and emphasized that the creation of de-escalation areas was temporary as provided for by the Memorandum of 4 May 2017;
Called upon the international community, particularly the UN and its humanitarian agencies, to increase its assistance to Syria by sending additional humanitarian aid, facilitating humanitarian mine action, restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities, and preserving historical heritage;
Welcomed the convening of the first meeting of the Working Group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of missing persons in Astana on 15 March 2018 with the participation of three guarantors as well as the UN and ICRC, and emphasized the importance of the effective functioning of the Working Group which would help build confidence between the conflicting parties;
Decided to hold their next meeting in the Islamic Republic of Iran upon the invitation of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E. Hassan Rouhani.
The Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for hosting this Tripartite Summit in Ankara.”
—April 4, 2018, in a press statement on the tripartite talks