Russia, Iran and Turkey want to redouble their efforts to get the Syrian Constitutional Committee to meet in early 2019 to work on a new constitution and elections in Syria.
Following a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who will leave the post on December 31, praised “the work done” but said that he still have a way to go in setting up a “credible and balanced” constitutional commission.
The commission, for their part, said in a statement the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers will have to work “in a spirit of compromise and constructive engagement”.
Sergei Lavrov, Mevlüt Cavusoglu and Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the launch of “a viable and sustainable political process led and controlled by the Syrians with the help of the United Nations“.
Staffan de Mistura has been trying since January to list the 150 members of the Constitutional Commission in order to relaunch the peace process.
He said he will report on his mission Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Thursday to the Security Council.
To form the commission, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad proposed 50 names, as did the Syrian opposition.
But Russia, Iran and Turkey have had more trouble agreeing on the last 50 members of the commission, who must be from civil society and circles “independent”, it was said diplomatic sources.
Turkey supports rebel groups that partly control north-west Syria. A year ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Assad as a “terrorist” and considered it impossible to return to peace as long as he remained at the head of Syria.
On Sunday, however, Mevlüt Cavusoglu said his country and other powers would consider working with President Assad if he was democratically elected.
The government of Damascus has repeatedly stated its hostility to the establishment of a constitutional commission under the auspices of the UN. So far, he has merely referred to “amendments” to the current Constitution, which will have to be approved by referendum.
On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem denounced the “interference” of some Western countries and the “obstacles” put by Turkey to the formation of the Constitutional Commission.