The murder of the Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara didn’t affect the Moscow summit this week. Opponents became allies, at least in their common interests. The gunshots on Monday killed a diplomat but did not dampen the cooperation between Turkey and Russia, who, along with Iran, agreed on a central point: The Syrian crisis should not be solved militarily but politically.
During the press conference following their meeting Tuesday, standing next to his Turkish and Iranian counterparts, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced: “We all agree that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected. We also agree that there cannot be a military solution to the Syrian crisis. We believe that there is no alternative to a political solution of the conflict.”
Iran, Russia and Turkey, Lavrov added, “are ready to provide assistance in the preparation of an agreement between the Syrian government and the opposition and become the guarantors. Ministers agree on the importance of expanding the cease-fire, free access for humanitarian aid and civil movement in the Syrian territories.”
Three days ago, ahead of the Moscow meeting, Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had expressed themselves in favor quick-start talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Astana, the Kazakh capital. Also three days ago, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, had announced that the United Nations was hoping to organize negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition on Feb. 8. Lavrov said there would be future meetings of the three countries but did not set a timeframe.