Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu announced on Monday that Bashar al Assad of Syria will not be a candidate for the presidential election following the projected transition process of the country which has been agreed on by the participants of the recent Vienna talks.
“There has been an agreement on the Syrian issue that it should have a resolution based on a political process. [The participants] have also reached a consensus on when this process will start,” Sinirlioglu said in his remarks to journalists on Oct. 16 at the G20 Antalya Summit which has been held in Turkey on Nov. 15-16.
The transition period will start on January 1, 2016 and will continue for six months in where a new government will be established, he added.
“The new established government will take over all the executive powers as it is foreseen in the Geneva Declaration. Following the founding of a new government, a process of 18 months has been projected,” he emphasised.
He stated that, “A new constitution of Syria will be made during this process and new elections will be held according to this constitution.”
In response to a question asked on the fate of Assad and the date of his leaving of the office, he disclosed that “It will be a matter which should be decided by the mentioned [new] government,” within the process of 18 months.
He indicated that Assad will leave office “in an agreed way and date, and will not be a candidate during the [planned] elections,” denying the reports of Assad’s renomination which “is not an option.”
The latest Vienna talks on the Syria conflict have been held on Nov.14 with the participation of the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, the UK, the United Nations, and the US.
The previous talks had been held by the sides on Oct. 30 when they decided to come together in two weeks to enlarge discussion in order to develop a healthy political process to find a concrete resolution to the conflict.
Originally, foreign ministers from Turkey, United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia met at first Oct. 23 on how to resolve the increasingly complicated Syrian crisis in their rare gathering in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
The crucial meeting followed embattled Syrian regime head Bashar al Assad's visit to Moscow where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Oct. 20.
The Geneva I Conference on Syria, which was referred to by Sinirlioglu in his statement to the press at the G20, was held in June 2012 in Geneva, and initiated by the then UN peace envoy to Syria Kofi Annan in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution to the Syrian civil war.
Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, a representative from China, then British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Kofi Annan had participated in the conference.
The conference issued a final “communiqué” at the end of its meetings saying that “[The goal is] the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place."
“That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent,” the communique continued.
“It is for the Syrian people to determine the future of the country. All groups and segments of society in Syria must be enabled to participate in a National Dialogue process. That process must not only be inclusive, it must also be meaningful - that is to say, its key outcomes must be implemented,” it added.
Following the Geneva I Conference, the mediators intensively worked to prepare a follow-up meeting, called the Geneva II Conference, which was eventually held in January and February 2014 - in Montreux - with no tangible results.
It seems that the Vienna talks have been the first comprehensive peace negotiations on the subject in the spirit of the Geneva discussions since then.
More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war started in 2011 between the Assad regime and opposition forces following the Arab Spring movement that swept a number of countries in the Middle-East and North Africa.
In addition, 6.7 million people are displaced internally while more than 4 million have fled the country to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.