Kazakhstan unexpectedly ends Astana peace process: 'Task completed'
The host of Syrian peace talks since 2017 says that now that Syria broke out of its isolation in the Arab world, there is no need to continue the meetings.
Kazakhstan announced unexpectedly that it will no longer host the Syria peace talks between Russia, Iran, and Turkey, ending a political process that has been ongoing since 2017.
Officials from the three coutries met in the Kazakh capital Astana this week for the 20th session to discuss ground developments and a roadmap to reestablish Ankara-Damascus ties, in addition to the recent Israeli aggressions, among other issues.
The last time a session - known as the Astana Process - was held was on November 22-23, 2022.
Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Kanat Tumysh said his country's position to conclude the process comes as it considers that the negotiation's goals had been achieved.
"Syria's gradual emergence from isolation in the region could be regarded as a sign that the Astana process has completed its task," he said in a press briefing.
"Taking into account Syria's return into the Arab (nations) family, we propose officially declaring the 20th meeting under the Astana process the final one."
In May, the Council of the Arab League announced readmitting Syria as a full member, 12 years after suspending its membership following the start of the war on the country.
On his part, Assistant Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Ayman Sousan, underlined that any effective results that may come out from the Astana process must be based on Turkey’s acknowledgment to completely withdraw its troops from the Syrian territories on a specific schedule and based on concrete steps and to start this actual withdrawal.
“That forms the cornerstone for any discussion of other issues related to the return of refugees, fighting all forms of terrorism, and the relations between the two countries,” Sousan, who participated in the meeting, added.
He also clarified that the Turkish statements about Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity contradict its continued occupation of Syrian territories and violate international law and the most basic elements of relations between countries.
In a joint statement, the trilateral party said another meeting will take place later this year and that a new location will be announced later.
"We cannot say that the Astana process is over," Russia's envoy Alexander Lavrentyev said. "... But if the Kazakh side has decided that they need to be moved to a different location, we will discuss that and pick one."
Lavrentyev noted that Russia, Iran, and Turkey could take turns in hosting the talks.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey established the Astana peace process in 2017 to find solutions to the Syrian problem through UN diplomatic efforts. However, the general environment around this process implies that it will not acquire pace unless Turkish forces completely withdraw from northern Syria, as hinted at during a meeting of the four countries' defense ministers on April 25.
On April 4, during a quadripartite meeting in Moscow that involved assistant foreign ministers of Syria, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, Syria laid out three conditions for normalizing ties with Turkey.
These include "ending the illegal Turkish presence on Syrian territory, non-interference in the Syrian internal affairs, and combating terrorism in all its forms."
On June 14, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that “the normalization roadmap is ready,” adding that “our goal here is productive negotiation with our partners in this endeavor; we hope the new meeting in Astana will allow us to move forward with a satisfactory development.”