UN envoy Mistura visits Turkey, praises refugee policy

UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura meets Undersecretary of Turkish Foreign Ministry Feridun Sinirlioglu to discuss pathways for resolution of Syrian crisis, thanks Turkey for refugee policy

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Nations special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met with the Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Feridun Sinirlioglu, to discuss possible pathways for a resolution to the Syrian conflict. The special representative thanked Turkey for its hospitality towards Syrian refugees.

This is Mistura’s second visit to Turkey within the framework of the Geneva talks in the process of preparing new proposals for a resolution to the Syrian crisis which will be submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the end of July.

Mistura also visited Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates within the framework of the discussions before coming to Turkey on July 15.

UN Geneva Office spokeswoman Jessy Chahine released a statement saying that, “De Mistura conveyed his appreciation for the substantial effort by Turkey in welcoming and hosting a large number of Syrian refugees," following the meeting.

Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country began to flee Syria with the escalation of the Syrian Civil War, in 2012, in large numbers. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts over 1.7 million Syrian refugees in addition to 300,000 Iraqi refugees.

The head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, declared in April that “Turkey is now the largest host of refugees anywhere in the world.” Turkey has hosted these people at its own expense, spending six billion dollars, she added.

Mistura’s spokeswoman Chahine stated that, “The special envoy also stressed the importance of the contribution of the regional countries to a political solution to the Syrian conflict.”

The envoy to Syria has also held meetings with “key players” of the Syrian Civil War over the past two months in Geneva in order to develop a solid ground for peace talks, the AFP news agency recently reported.

Mistura had already paid a visit into Istanbul last month following the invitation of Syrian opposition groups and held talks with the representatives of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the umbrella organisation for the Syrian opposition.

The president of the umbrella organisation Khaled Khoja and his delegation arrived in Geneva in early July and met with Mistura in order to further discuss issues blocking peace talks.  

UN Geneva Office Communication Director Ahmad Fawzi said in April that UN will hold consultations on Syria between the Syrian regime and opposition groups in May in Geneva. The meetings will be “very low key and low profile, and will not correspond to Geneva 3, he added.   

The Geneva I Conference on Syria was held in June 2012 in Geneva, and initiated by 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, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Kofi Annan 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.

Since then there have been no equivalent peace negotiations on the subject.   

Mistura will also pay visits to the Russian capital of Moscow and the Chinese capital Beijing following the his visit to Turkey. Both Russia and China have vetoed UN resolutions against the Bashar al Assad regime.

More than 220,000 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.

TRTWorld and agencies