On April 4, senior diplomats from Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria held a long-awaited meeting in Moscow to push forward the normalization process between Ankara and Damascus.
Greeting the participants of the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Syrian and Turkish diplomats to show “flexibility and constructive attitude,” and abandon the “confrontational rhetoric and past offenses.”
The minister added that the process of normalization will take time, emphasizing the importance to “find for common ground to reach a balance of interests and avoid preconditions” and promising that Moscow and Tehran will help create conditions for further talks.
Ayman Sousan, Syria’s deputy foreign minister who attended the talks, affirmed that Turkey’s formal and unequivocal announcement that it will withdraw its forces from all Syrian territory is “the gateway to re-establish communication between the two sides.”
The senior diplomat stressed that restoring the situation in the northeastern and northwestern of Syria to what it used to be requires conditions, including the withdrawal of all illegal forces, combating terrorism, and restoring the Syrian state’s control over all its territory.
After the end of the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry described the talks as “frank and direct,” while the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that they were held in a “transparent and clear manner.” The two sides said that the diplomats discussed preparations for a planned meeting of the four countries’ foreign ministers.
The quadripartite meeting was supposed to be held early on in March. Nevertheless, it was delayed due to “technical reasons”.
The Turkish-Syrian normalization process achieved a major breakthrough last December when the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkey and Syria met in Moscow.
Ankara wants Damascus help in combating United States-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria as well as in settling its refugee crisis. From its side, Damascus is insisting on a Turkish withdrawal from all Syrian territory.
With no clear progress made during the senior diplomats meeting in Moscow, the next meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria may not take place before the Turkish general elections in May. The results of the elections will have a direct impact on the normalization process.