Russian, Turkish, Iranian Presidents Adopt Joint Declaration on Syria

SOCHI- The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey have adopted a joint declaration on their countries’ cooperation in resolving the crisis in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Wednesday after the trilateral summit.

"The document defines priorities for further cooperation of Russia, Turkey and Iran, which have the upper hand in Syrian issues, and sets concrete tasks for the future," Putin said, according to Itar Tass.

"According to the Russian leader, at their meeting "the presidents discussed in detail the basic aspects of the Syrian settlement and agreed to continue taking the most active efforts to solve the main task: to establish peace and stability in that country, preserve its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity."

Russia, Iran and Turkey will conduct work on a date and composition of a future Syrian National Dialog Congress in Sochi, he went on.

 "I can state with satisfaction that the presidents of Iran and Turkey welcomed the idea of convening a pan-Syrian forum - a Syrian National Dialogue Congress. It has been agreed to arrange for this most important event at the proper level and to ensure participation in it of the wide strata of Syrian society. The foreign ministries, special services and defense ministries were instructed to work on a date and composition of the Congress to be held here in Sochi," Putin said.

Syria’s social and economic restoration demands a large amount of work and the issue was discussed at the summit.

"At today’s talks we did not leave out an issue of Syria’s economic and social restoration. Lots of work should be done. Actually, the Syrians should be helped to rebuild infrastructure, to revive the industry, agriculture and trade and to reopen vital facilities - hospitals, schools and kindergartens," Putin said.

Iran’s Rouhani believes Syrian National Dialogue Congress to help draft new constitution

On his part, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the Syrian National Dialogue Congress will enable the Syrians to draft a new constitution that could become a basis for holding elections in that country.

"The congress will become a new step towards peace and stability in Syria and towards free elections in Syria on the basis of a new constitution," Rouhani said.

Putin: Large-Scale Combat Actions against Terrorists in Syria Nearing End

At the opening of a trilateral meeting of the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Sochi, Putin said that large-scale combat actions against terrorists are coming to an end, stressing that only the Syrian people have the right to shape their own future.

"The large-scale combat actions against terror groups in Syria are coming to an end," Putin said. "I note that the efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey have helped to prevent Syria’s breakup, not allow its takeover by international terrorists and avoid a humanitarian crisis," according to Itar Tass.

 The Russian leader noted that a decisive blow had been dealt to militants in Syria, and a real chance has emerged to end the war that has raged for many year.

The Astana process

Putin has pointed to a special role played by the  three countries in the Astana process on political settlement in Syria.

"Less than a year ago, we initiated the launch of the Astana process undertaking to guarantee the implementation of the agreements and promote the UN-brokered intra-Syrian dialogue," Putin said.

He noted that representatives of the government and the armed opposition had been brought together at the negotiating table in Astana for the first time. The Russian leader added that some fateful decisions for Syria had been made after seven rounds of consultations. The cessation of hostilities is being observed, and four de-escalation zones have been set up and are functioning in the country’s key regions.

The Syrian National Dialog Congress

The Russian leader hopes that Russia, Iran and Turkey will exert the maximum efforts for making the Syrian National Dialog Congress effective enough.

"The Syrian people are to shape their future and to agree on the principles of statehood on their own," Putin said. "It is clear that the reform process will be a no easy one. It will require compromises and concessions by all partakers. I do hope that Russia, Iran and Turkey will take concerted action to make this work productive to the maximum extent."

He recalled that the idea of convening a National Dialogue Congress, supported by Russia, Turkey and Iran, was expected to launch a wide intra-Syrian dialogue. The congress will be held in Sochi.

"I suggest discussing the parameters of this forum today," Putin said.

The program of rebuilding Syria

Putin suggested that the three countries should think about jointly developing a comprehensive plan to rebuild Syria.

"Considering the huge scope of destruction, we could jointly think about elaborating a long-term comprehensive program of rebuilding Syria," the Russian president said.

Putin said he was confident the success of upcoming transformations would largely depend on the solution of Syria’s social and economic problems and the restoration of its industry, agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare and education systems.

No less important is the humanitarian aspect, including targeted aid to the population, mine clearance on liberated territories and assistance in the return of refugees, the Russian president said.

Putin noted that thousands of refugees had already started returning to their homes after de-escalation zones had been set up in Syria.

Speaking about the elaboration of the comprehensive program of rebuilding Syria, the Russian leader said that experts from Russia, Turkey and Iran had carried out tremendous preparatory work for substantive talks.

"That is why, I am confident that the discussion will be detailed and productive and the accords reached will contribute to further restoring peace and security in Syria, strengthening its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and help stabilize the situation in the Middle East," the Russian president said.

Long-term normalization in Syria

Russia, Turkey and Iran should team up to get the situation back to normal in Syria and to assist in the country’s development after the war, according to Putin.

"We can state with confidence that we have reached a new stage opening the door for a real political process," Putin said. "I believe that our efforts should be concentrated on long-term normalization in Syria. I especially mean the political solution aimed to finalize the talks within the framework of Geneva process and to help develop the country in the post-conflict period."

The Russian head of state underlined that Wednesday’s summit was expected to solve this task. The presidents are to discuss their future joint steps aimed at strengthening and promoting recent positive changes in Syria.

The three presidents would share views on how to give maximum impetus to the political process basing on the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2254, he added. The document envisages a nationwide dialogue in Syria involving people from all walks of life, of all ethnic, confessional and political backgrounds, without exception.

Rouhani: Foreign Interference Hindered Reaching Settlement in Syria

On his part, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said the summit in Sochi opened new horizons to end the crisis in Syria, affirming that the Syrian people won't allow any party to interfere in their internal affairs and they reject any procedures that harm their country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He pointed out foreign interference in Syria and the support for terrorism have prolonged the crisis in Syria and hindered reaching a settlement.

He affirmed that Iran has supported the Syrian people and government in confrontation of terrorism at the request of the Syrian government and it is ready to provide assistance the region's countries in fighting international terrorism.

He asserted that the presence of any foreign troops in Syria should be done with permission of the Syrian government.

He made it clear that Iran, Russia and Turkey should coordinate their positions at all levels for the success of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

 The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on his part, said that the meetings on Syria in Astana were beneficial for the entire region, calling for pushing ahead with joint efforts.

Hamda Mustafa