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Astana Format Countries Facilitate Syria Constitutional Committee 1st Session

Astana Format Countries Facilitate Syria Constitutional Committee 1st Session

Thursday, 26 September, 2019 - 08:15
Displaced Syrian children in front of a bus taking them to classrooms near Idlib (AFP)

Astana Format countries, which include Russia, Turkey and Iran, agreed to partake in the first Syria Constitutional Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.


This was announced in a joint press release for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and Iranian FM Mohammed Javad Zarif. The three had met on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly session.


The joint statement welcomed the completion of the Committee’s formation process, and unanimous agreement on applying the rules of procedure prepared by the Astana Format countries in coordination with UN Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen.


“Guarantor states (Russia, Turkey and Iran) affirm the strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and stress the need for all parties to abide by these principles," the statement said.


It also reiterated the three countries’ determination to support the Committee’s work.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday the creation of the constitutional Committee on Syria that will include members of Bashar al-Assad's government and opposition representatives.


The announcement came a week after Guterres said an agreement was reached concerning "the composition of the Committee". This is part of the efforts to end the civil war which broke out in 2011.


The Committee, whose members have sparked disagreements between Damascus and the United Nations for months, consists of 150 members-- 50 were chosen by Damascus, 50 by the opposition, and 50 by the UN.


EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini backed the UN chief on the announcement of the Committee's formation.


“After eight years of conflict, the announcement made by the UN Secretary General on an agreement on the formation of the Constitutional Committee in the framework of UNSCR 2254 and the Geneva process is a long awaited welcome news that gives back hope to the Syrians,” she said.


“The EU has consistently affirmed that any sustainable solution to the conflict requires a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process. The UN Special Envoy has the full support of the European Union in his continued efforts.”


“We look forward to the inaugural meeting of the Constitutional Committee at the earliest possible opportunity and expect that this should represent the start of a process ultimately leading to peace that Syrians so clearly need and deserve,” she added.


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