Russia quartet meeting: Senior diplomats call for respect for Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity

The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey have met in Moscow for high-level talks on resuming relations between Ankara and Damascus after years of animosity during the war. At the end of the meeting, they issued a joint statement, stressing the importance of respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Top diplomats from Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria have wrapped up their landmark summit on the Syrian conflict in Moscow, underscoring the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and setting up a roadmap to improve strained ties between Damascus and Ankara.

The foreign ministers made the remarks in a final communiqué at the end of the four-party meeting aimed at reconciliation and resumption of ties between Damascus and Ankara in various dimensions on Wednesday.

“Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and official statements in the Astana process, the participants emphasized their commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, non-interference in its internal affairs and fighting all forms of terrorism, separatism and extremism in the country,” the final communiqué said.

Endorsed in 2015, Resolution 2254 supports a Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations.

“They also emphasized the importance of increasing international humanitarian aid to Syria with the aim of facilitating the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Syrians to their homeland and post-war reconstruction,” it added.

According to the final communiqué, the participants agreed that deputy foreign ministers of the four countries should undertake the task of preparing a roadmap for advancing relations between Turkey and Syria in coordination with their defense ministries and intelligence chiefs.

There had been a “positive and constructive atmosphere” in the exchange of views, the communiqué said, and the ministers agreed that high-level technical contacts and discussions will continue in the same four-party format in the future.

The agreement comes a week after Syria and Arab governments meeting in Jordan agreed to set up a roadmap of their own to resolve the Syrian conflict and improve ties.

Syria has been returning to the Arab fold and restoring relations with its neighbors in a slow but steady process that culminated with a decision Sunday by the Arab League to reinstate Syria’s membership after 12 years.

Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants, including those supported by Ankara.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched several military incursions in northwest Syria and captured an important enclave previously held by US-backed Kurdish forces fighting the Assad government.

Russia and Iran, on the other hand, entered Syria at the request of Damascus, and played a key role in defeating the terrorists and reclaiming much of the country back.

Syria and Turkey are currently taking steps toward reconciliation after 11 years.

In the last bid to mend ties between Ankara and Damascus, the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran met in Moscow late last month and discussed the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria.

The process of normalizing ties between Ankara and Damascus kicked off on December 28, 2022, when the Russian, Syrian and Turkish defense ministers met in Moscow, in what was the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated in January that a rapprochement with Turkey would depend on Turkey ending its occupation of northern Syria and its support for militant groups fighting against the Damascus government.

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