ANKARA, The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran have voiced opposition to attempts to create new realities on the ground in the war-torn Syria.
The presidents rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground in Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism, reads a joint statement after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani met in Ankara Monday assess the situation in Syria and discuss joint efforts to end the eight-year conflict.
They also voiced determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and threatening the national security of neighboring countries.
“The presidents emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Arab Republic of Syria as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” reads the joint statement.
The three leaders also mulled the situation in the Idlib and called for full implementation of all agreements on de-escalation in Idlib, first and foremost the Memorandum of 17 September 2018.
They condemned the US decision to recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which in addition to violating international law also threatens regional peace and security, according to the statement.
In a news conference following the summit, the Turkish president warned that the YPG/PYD terrorist organization poses the “biggest” threat to Syria.
“The PKK, and its offshoots YPG/PYD, is the biggest threat to Syria’s future. As long as the PKK/PYD presence in the country continues, neither Syria nor our region can find peace,” Erdogan told reporters.
He said the summit was fruitful and led to important decisions towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
Saying Ankara cannot ignore “a new tragedy” in Idlib affecting four million people near its border, Erdogan said such a development would affect not only Turkey but all of Europe.
“We stressed need for concrete measures to ensure the safety of civilians and military personnel of guarantor countries in the field,” he said.
The Turkish president said the leaders also discussed ongoing efforts to create required conditions for the return of the refugees, and finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Syria.
He said the countries need to focus on the safe and voluntary return of Syrians to their homeland.
“A peace corridor east of the Euphrates will be a protected port for the refugees. We believe that we can resettle at least two million Syrian brothers and sisters, who took refuge in our country, in this region,” Erdogan said.
He explained that if the corridor could be expanded to Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor and Raqqa provinces, the number of refugees returning to their country could reach over three million.
Turkey is ready to undertake any responsibility for building new residential areas for the Syrians returning home, he announced.
He unveiled that Ankara wants to build residential areas in a 450-kilometer (279-mile) safe zone to be established in northern Syria.
If the desired result on the zone was not achieved with the US within two weeks, Turkey would start applying its own action plan, he vowed.
For his part, Russian President Putin reiterated his country’s continued support for the Syrian regime army to eliminate the hotbeds of “terrorism.” He said that he agreed with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts to cooperate to defuse tension in Idlib once and for all.
He called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, including the US, to restore Syria’s territorial integrity.
For his part, Rouhani noted they had discussed efforts streamlining the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
Iran had good experience in this realm as it hosted three million Afghan refugees over 40 years, he suggested.
The Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was launched in January 2017. The 14th round of Astana meetings will be held next October in the capital of Kazakhistan Nur-Sultan.
Source: Kuwait News Agency