Leaders of Russia, Turkey, Germany and France have gathered in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian peace process. While the outcome of such tricky talks is hard to predict, the new format appears to be, at least, quite refreshing.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Istanbul on Saturday to talk Syrian reconciliation. The host, Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has put high expectations on the gathering.
“The whole world is watching this meeting. I hope, that the hopes will be met,” Erdogan said, while opening the summit.
The four leaders are also expected to be joined by UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura. The four-way summit is an entirely new format of talks on the war-torn country, which has endured years-long conflict.
It’s quite hard to predict what exactly could be achieved from such a format, and all the players are quite cautious about it. The meeting is all about testing the waters and trying to bring about different formats of talks on Syria, as if the leaders were to “synchronize watches” rather than reach a breakthrough, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Similar opinion was expressed by Germany, with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stating that the summit effectively brings different sides together for the very first time.
“There are Russians and Turks, who have been at the same format of talks with Iran. And on the other side, there are French and us, who partake in the so-called ‘Friends of Syria’ group,” Maas said ahead of the event, adding that having a “joint conversation” was a viable idea.
Turkey, which is hosting the summit, appears to be a little bit more optimistic about the high-profile event. According to the spokesman for Turkey’s President, Ibrahim Kalin, the leaders are expected to discuss prospects of political settlement in Syria, and might agree on some sort of reconciliation roadmap and the main ideas for the new Syrian Constitution.
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