World diplomats agree on peace process for Syria

World diplomats in Vienna talks agree for immediate ceasefire in Syria and elections including all sides to be held in 2017

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura address the media in Vienna, Austria, November 14, 2015.

Foreign ministers of 17 countries agreed on Saturday in Vienna for a cease-fire to take place in Syria and for the nation to hold elections, which will include groups opposing Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad within 18 months.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following Saturday’s talks announced at a press conference in the Austrian capital, that the government and "the whole spectrum of opposition forces" in Syria should come together no later than January 1, 2016.

Stating that the UN, along with its Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura have been assigned with supervising the formation of such a group, Lavrov added that "This will be a Syrian-led process."

De Mistura told journalists that the UN is ready to assist with the political process starting "at any time," adding that the representative delegation of the Assad regime is willing and ready.

"The opposition needs to come up and we will help them," he said.

He also stated that even though not everyone in the region is ready for an immediate ceasefire, it has been agreed that the violence and unrest must end and be "parallel" to the process of political transition.

However, the ceasefire does not apply to DAESH terrorist organization and the Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front, both of groups have taken over large swaths of Syria’s territory.

Evan Barrett, an adviser to the US-based Coalition for a Democratic Syria, stated that Russia is working on persuading Western nations to reclassify some Syrian opposition groups as “terrorists” in a bid to bolster Assad's regime.

"Without any guarantees over the fate of Assad, the prosecution of war crimes, or opposition participation in a future government, it's hard to see how the opposition could accept this framework," Barrett told Al Jazeera.

Although delegates have previously disagreed regarding the future of Assad, the sides "are in agreement for the transition process," US Secretary of State John Kerry stated during the press conference.

If Assad is willing to join the negotiations, then he can participate in the process in Syria, Kerry continued.

Adding that the agreement on the Syrian peace process opens wider prospects for cooperation between Russia and the US, calling it "a road ahead to be able to do more."

All nations should not allow terrorists to use the opportunity of their disagreements and let their power grow only because "we can not agree on some things," Kerry said.

"The last thing we want to see is [Islamic State] grow because of it," he added.

Lavrov also added that Assad is not "the root of all evil," and that the recent terrorist attacks by DAESH "show that it doesn't matter if you're for or against Assad - you're ISIL enemy."

Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, said in a statement that the Paris attacks "reaffirm our collective commitment" to combat terror and violence wherever it may take place.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini affirmed that no one could turn away from a common threat.

"We are together in this: Europeans, Arabs, East and West, all the international community," Mogherini stated.

"The best response to this is actually coming together, overcoming our differences, and trying together to lead the way towards peace in Syria," she continued.

After wrapping up their meeting, the delegates chose the French capital - in a decision prompted by the Paris attacks - as a meeting place for their next scheduled talks before the end of 2015, in an attempt go over the progress made toward the cease fire and the selection of delegations for the political talks.

TRTWorld and agencies