Victory of Common Vision Over Political Interests… Or Not

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(— October 28, 2018) — Years of world leaders being in disagreement on Syria, is finally over after the leaders of Turkey, France, Germany, and Russia presented a common vision on the war-torn country when they met in Istanbul. Analysts say that it was possible because the US and the UK were not involved.

The photo of Turkish president Erdoğan holding the hand of German Chancellor Merkel on one side and French President Macron on the other isn’t a surprise since all three are NATO allies. Holding hands with Russian Federation leader Vladimir Putin is, however, an unusual display. The photo sends a powerful message that it is possible for NATO leaders and Russia to overcome problems and be a part of the solution and not the problem. For the two European leaders it is important that the Istanbul summit is not regarded as “anti-American” in Washington.

Here’s a summary of agreement reported by the Russia Today News:

The only political solution for Syria – The leaders recognized Syrian government and the United Nations as the authorities in negotiation processes, which directly opposes Washington’s support of „moderate rebels“ in a mission to overturn Syria’s president Asaad.

There is a need to start work on a constitution in Geneva – a new constitution for Syria will be written in Geneva by a special committee.

No to the division of Syria – Maybe the most significant agreement is that Syria is recognized as sovereign country with its borders as they are and that no division between East and the West controlled areas should take place.

Maintain ceasefire & defeat terrorists – The Idlib ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey is supported by all leaders. However, the fight against terrorists remains the priority. Also, the leaders condemned the use of chemical weapons.

Boost humanitarian aid – The leaders agreed to provide “swift, safe and unhindered” flow of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

Help the return of refugees – The four leaders stressed the importance of “safe and voluntary” return of refugees to Syria. They agreed to build houses and infrastructure to facilitate the return of refugees.

Internationally observed elections – All Syrians, including those who had to flee the country, must be able to participate in democratic elections monitored by an international body.

The location of the summit was not chosen by chance, Turkey is has a significant stake in it. On the other hand, both Turkey and the EU, unlike, for example, the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia who refused to participate in the meeting are interested in creating conditions for the return of refugees and further developing the peace process.