Russia is maintaining silence on the reported postponement of its “People’s Congress” for a Syrian political resolution.
Last week, at the 7th round of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, Moscow said it had agreed with Turkey and Iran on the gathering, sending out invitations to 33 groups. The initiative appeared to be an effort to bypass the main Syrian opposition over a proposed settlement of the 80-month conflict.
But the spokesman for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now says that the congress has been set back indefinitely
Ibrahim Kalin (pictured) said Ankara was in the middle of deciding whether to accept or decline Russia’s invitation to the congress, set for November 18, when news came it had been postponed.
However, he indicated that Turkey would not have attended: “We found out that the congress was announced as a fait accompli. We immediately objected. Afterwards, the Kremlin contacted us and stated that they had postponed this meeting.”
He said Ankara may send an observer at a later date.
Turkey was upset that the Russians invited Kurdish groups including the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Party (PYD), whom the Government considers to part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.
Kalin said that Russia now has confirmed that “the PYD would not be invited”.
The main Syrian opposition group at the Astana and Geneva talks, the High Negotiations Committee, had already rejected the congress as a meeting of “the regime with the regime”. The Assad regime reacted with caution, perhaps of concern that the conference could lead to endorsement of the de facto partition of Syria: it focused on Turkey, accusing it of aggression and co-operation with “terrorists”.