By Hasan Tosun, Betul Yuruk
VIENNA (AA) – A meeting of the International Syria Support Group has begun in the Austrian capital of Vienna to find a solution to the five-year Syrian civil war.
Twenty-four representatives from 20 countries and four international organizations are attending the meeting co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.
At the meeting, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is representing Turkey.
The group is expected to reiterate its call for a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the immediate provision of humanitarian aid to locations besieged by Syrian regime forces.
Opposition forces and the Syrian regime will also discuss extending the cessation of hostilities, establishing a mechanism to control the truce, providing humanitarian aid to some areas, sending a delegation to besieged locations and assessing the condition and release of prisoners.
The peace talks in Geneva, which aimed to ensure a political transition process in Syria but were suspended due to Russian and Syrian attacks on civilians, are expected to be revived by the two parties. Therefore, a decision to resume the talks is expected in the coming days.
However, any resumption of the peace talks depends on the restoration of the truce.
- Geneva Process
The third round of peace talks started in January but reached deadlock after Russia carried out airstrikes on opposition groups and civilians. Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, suspended talks which he said could not be sustained under bombardment.
In a meeting held in Munich on Feb. 12, the parties agreed to halt fighting and facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid to besieged areas.
The peace talks, suspended after a partial truce on Feb. 27, resumed on March 14 but no progress was recorded in the two-week process.
Talks that started in Geneva on April 13 were derailed after the regime attacked civilians and hospitals. The opposition side unilaterally suspended contact, saying talks could not be sustained amid the bombardments.
All eyes were on the U.S. and Russia after the partial truce collapsed.
The regime continues its violations despite the two superpowers’ promise to double their efforts to maintain the cease-fire and find a political solution.
Speaking at a conference in Paris on May 10, Kerry called for a national and wide-scale truce instead of a temporary one.
- Vienna Process -
The initial step to ending the civil war in Syria was taken with Geneva 1 talks held on June 30, 2012, but the Geneva Communique, which was released afterwards, has not been implemented. After this first attempt, the Geneva II Conference was held in Jan. 22, 2014, but the desired result did not emerge.
Diplomatic efforts escalated in late 2015. During Nov. 14 Vienna talks, the parties agreed to resume peace negotiations and ensure: a cease-fire; a political transition process within six months; preparation for a new constitution; an election within 18 months plus designate who is ‘terrorist’ or ‘opposition’ under UN supervision.
The issues agreed at the meeting of the International Syria Support Group in New York on Dec. 18 were adopted the same day by the UN Security Council.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Servet Gunerigok contributed to this story from Ankara.