Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov commented on the importance of the Astana process for the settlement of the conflict in Syria, Qamshy.kz information agency has learnt from the Kazakh MFA's press service.
"The agreements reached within the framework of the Astana Process concern only one segment of the settlement in Syria, namely, the December 2016 ceasefire regime and the creation of de-escalation zones set up on its basis," Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told Kazinform. "It is from this understanding that we need to proceed when giving an assessment of the agreements reached by Iran, Russia and Turkey within the Astana Process," added Mr Abdrakhmanov.
"Both the guarantor states and the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and several dozen groups comprising of Syrian armed opposition - which represent more than 2,000 communities - act as the parties to fulfill these agreements," the Minister said. According to the Foreign Minister, there is no reason to question the effectiveness of the ceasefire regime and the establishment of de-escalation zones. "This is why the significance of the Astana process and the past eight rounds of talks can not be overestimated. The main task of creating conditions for the cessation of hostilities has been solved.
The government of Syria and the armed opposition sat down at the same negotiation table in Astana. In 2017, the level of violence and the number of civilian casualties have been drastically reduced. A mechanism has been introduced to monitor compliance with the agreement of the cessation of hostilities. Confidence-building measures have been put in place. In general, in the course of the entire 2017, we observed trends towards improvement of the humanitarian situation," explained Mr Abdrakhmanov. "It is another matter that all parties, including Kazakhstan, committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.We expect from the countries that can exercise influence on the situation on the ground and conduct a military campaign against international terrorist groups in Syria, to interact and find common ground for joint fight against the coming threat of terrorism," the Minister added.
Mr Abdrakhmanov expressed concern over the negative development of the situation in East Ghouta with numerous civilian casualties, including among women and children. "Kazakhstan calls on all forces that support an early settlement of the Syrian conflict, including the government of Syria and the armed opposition, to fully comply with the ceasefire regime. An impartial analysis of the situation in Eastern Ghouta by international organizations and their humanitarian missions is urgently needed," stressed the Minister.
The Kazakh foreign minister also said that "the Syrian authorities should urgently lift the siege of East Ghouta, and all the parties must ensure safe and unhindered access for the humanitarian assistance to reach the affected area, as well as the evacuation of people in need of medical assistance." The Minister expressed hope that the foreign ministers of the guarantor states of the Astana Process will take additional constructive steps to strictly implement the ceasefire agreements and de-escalation zones in Syria at the meeting scheduled to take place in the capital of Kazakhstan in mid-March 2018.
"We expect the guarantor states to use their authority and influence so that the government and the armed opposition of Syria take the first real steps towards strengthening confidence-building measures, including through the exchange of prisoners and the repatriation of the bodies of the deceased," Mr Abdrakhmanov said. "We believe that the Astana Process has proven to be an effective mechanism for supporting the efforts of the United Nations on Syria, including within the framework of the Geneva platform, which is the main one in the settlement of the conflict in that country. At the same time, it is important to consolidate the efforts of all interested countries to create a Global Counter-Terrorism Coalition (network) under the auspices of the United Nations, as proposed by President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.