President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, initially offered Astana as a venue that could be used to progress ceasefire talks between opposing sides in Syria. To date, there have been four rounds of Syrian peace talks in Astana in 2017, with a fifth taking place on July 4-5 2017. The contribution of the Astana talks to resolving the conflict through diplomatic dialogue have been recognised by the United Nations and numerous world leaders. The Astana process is complementary to the Geneva one, with both aiming to work in tandem to ensure a peaceful and stable solution to the conflict in Syria.
This meeting was arranged with the intention of strengthening the ceasefire signed on December 30, 2016. These were indirect talks between Syrian armed rebel factions and representatives of the Syrian government, supported by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with UN delegation acting as intermediary, as well as US delegation as an observer. These talks are credited as being the first to include both the Syrian government and an armed opposition.
The guarantor states agreed to establish a tripartite mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria; expressed their readiness to cooperate in combating ISIS and An-Nusra; agreed to hold meetings on the Astana platform on specific issues.
UN Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, stated that Kazakhstan “has already shown its efforts for the resolution of the most difficult situations in the international arena … [and] Kazakhstan's non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council will represent an additional opportunity to help resolve the Syrian conflict".
These talks involved the three guarantor countries – Russia, Iran and Turkey – as well as representatives from the Syrian government and armed Syrian opposition groups, with the United Nations, the US and Jordan as observers.
The guarantor states agreed to establish a Joint Monitoring Group, the results of which would be reported to the UN; agreed on a draft provision on reconciled areas in Syria; discussed a draft provision on the exchange of prisoners.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as the Syrian government delegation. Delegations of the UN, the US and Jordan participated as observers.
The guarantor states reviewed the current state of ceasefire in Syria and the situation in reconciled areas; discussed a provision on the working group on the exchange of detained and imprisoned persons as well as prospects for establishing a working group on Syrian Constitution and creating a single map indicating positions of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Jabhat an-Nusra and locations of the armed opposition groups. They also addressed the issue of demining the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syira.
The fourth meeting of the Astana talks included delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey, and representatives of the Syrian government and Syrian armed opposition. A delegation from the United States, United Nations and Jordan all participated as observers.
The guarantor states signed a Memorandum on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria. According to the Memorandum, the de-escalation areas in Idlib, Homs, eastern Ghouta, as well as Deraa and Al-Quneitra would be created with the aim to put a prompt end to violence, improve the humanitarian situation and create favourable conditions to advance political settlement of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Delegations of the guarantor states – Iran, Russia and Turkey – adopted a Joint Statement, reaffirming their commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. They also expressed their conviction that the solution of the Syrian conflict is possible only through political means.
The fifth meeting is taking place in Astana on July 4-5, 2017.