Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

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Results of the 8th round of negotiations on settlement Syrian crisis in Astana

On December 20th this year in Astana, the next eighth round of negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian conflict has started. The first day of negotiations was traditionally held behind closed doors. The next day on December 21, the final plenary session was held with the participation of the guarantor countries of the Syrian government and the armed opposition.

On the first day of the talks in Astana, bilateral and multilateral consultations took place. Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran at the talks in Astana, discussed the holding of the upcoming Congress of the Peoples of Syria, which will be held in late January - early February 2018.

In the agenda of the talks there were again questions of the functioning of de-escalation zones. It should be noted that since during the seventh round of talks in Astana the parties did not reach consensus on the exchange of detainees and the transfer of bodies of the deceased people, this topic of discussion remained relevant for the eighth round. In addition, the agenda of the talks was also the issue of approving a joint statement on the clearance of the liberated territories, including UNESCO facilities.

It should be noted that earlier during the eighth round of negotiations in Geneva, were identified the main issues - the preparation of the constitution, as well as presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as the political fate of Bashar Assad. At the same time, indirect talks between representatives of Damascus and the Syrian opposition, with the mediation of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, did not lead to actual results.

In addition, a certain information predetermination was given by the previously agreed document approved by the Syrian opposition in Riyadh, which contained the demand for the resignation of the incumbent Syrian president. Objectively, this approach can be called premature and counterproductive, as it creates obstacles to further peace processes on Syria in Astana and Geneva.

Within the framework of the Astana process for the settlement of the Syrian conflict, the parties do not concern the development of the parameters of the future state structure of Syria, therefore this format has advantages over the negotiations in Geneva. However, in the Astana format, there are also difficulties in establishing a truce regime between the moderate opposition and the government forces of Syria. In addition, at the held talks in Astana, the official representatives of Turkey and Iran, as well as official Damascus, opposed the participation of Kurds from the so-called Party of the Democratic Union (PYD) in the negotiation process on the issue of Kurdish autonomy.

It is important to emphasize that during the UN Security Council meeting on December 20th this year, representatives of Kazakhstan supported the extension of the Resolution SC 2165 on cross-border humanitarian assistance in Syria for one year.

At the same time, the Kazakh delegation called on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to do everything possible to improve the monitoring and transparency of humanitarian operations conducted under the auspices of the UN and non-governmental organizations in Syria.

In general, at the talks in Astana, the same practical issues were discussed productively: monitoring of de-escalation zones, the ceasefire and demining regime, and improving the humanitarian situation in Syria.