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Experts discuss barriers to mediation at Istanbul forum

Experts discuss barriers to mediation at Istanbul forum
Online conference addresses critical regional issues such as Libya, Syria and eastern Ukraine crises

By Behlul Cetinkaya

ANKARA (AA) - International experts discussed critical factors affecting meditation efforts in regional and global crises at a conference Thursday in Istanbul.

Turkey hosted the 7th Istanbul Mediation Conference, which was attended by high-level representatives of international organizations.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the conference took place online.

The challenges faced by those working in the field of peace since the start of the pandemic as well as how the outbreak will affect the dynamics of conflicts were addressed in depth.

On the Libya issue, former UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said the power struggle between the great powers led to radical changes in peacemaking.

He said regional powers directly support the conflicts and combating groups.

"Sometimes they send mercenaries or pay for mercenaries from other countries. They provide a lot of money and weapons to factions," he said.

He stressed that there is foreign intervention in all of the conflicts known as "civil wars" today.

"In this environment, the UN and other regional and global organizations find it difficult to mediate," he added.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The UN recognizes the government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Diplomatic efforts have been underway in recent weeks to reach a solution to the Libyan conflict following victories by the Libyan Army against Haftar’s militias.


On the Syria issue, Staffan de Mistura, the former UN Special Envoy for Syria, said that after the Cold War, conflicts turned into nationalist or religious ones.

He said mediation efforts are becoming more difficult due to too many combatant groups in the field.

“The Astana process is an example for this,” Mistura said, adding that in Syria, Turkey acts like a guarantor for opposition groups while Russia and Iran act like the regime’s guarantor.

“While there are the armies of many countries in Syria, some solutions were reached for this multi-player problem in the Astana process.”

Mistura added that the process stopped the clashes and provided the foundation for establishing peace through a ceasefire.

The Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was launched in January 2017 as the initiative of Turkey, Russia and Iran.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, thousands of people died, millions fled the country or were displaced from their hometowns. The war caused instability and chaos. As a result, some terrorist groups such as the YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS took advantage to realize their terror activities. It has also led to one of the biggest refugee crises in history.


On the eastern Ukraine crisis, Yasar Halit Cevik, Chief Monitor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, said even disputes over describing the issue cause difficulties in resolving the problems.

"If you ask Ukrainians about the issue, they say it is a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but if you ask the same thing to Russians, they say this is a disorder in the east of Ukraine," he said.

He also mentioned how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected meditation efforts, saying that the parties could not come together to discuss the issue face to face.

The Minsk Agreement signed in 2015 by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany and overseen by the OSCE was drafted to end hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow and Kiev have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, a move widely viewed as illegal, including by Turkey and the UN General Assembly.

Ukraine also blames the Kremlin for separatist violence in Donbass in the country's east near its border with Russia, which has claimed some 13,000 lives.

*Writing by Fahri Aksut

source: News Feed
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