President at the Fifth Tripartite Summit of Iran, Russia and Turkey: Syrian crisis, similar ones must be settled through peaceful solutions
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran stressed that, “Protecting the integrity and territorial integrity, respecting the national sovereignty, independence, and no foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs must be seriously observed and all required groundwork for the return of stability, security and peace in the country must be provided”.
Speaking on Monday evening at the Fifth Tripartite Summit of Iran, Russia and Turkey held in Ankara, President Hassan Rouhani voiced the views of the Islamic Republic of Iran on different aspects of the Syrian crisis and solutions to it.
President Hassan Rouhani’s speech is as follows:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Your Excellency Mr Erdoğan,
Your Excellency Mr Putin,
At the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to my brother Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the honourable President of Turkey, for hosing the fifth summit of Astana Peace Process Guarantors, and appreciate the Turkish government and noble nation’s hospitality.
At the outset, I would like to reiterate the common principles on the Syrian issue:
Preservation of Syria's integrity and territorial integrity, respect for national sovereignty and independence; and the non-interference of foreigners in its internal affairs, which have always been emphasised by us, must be taken seriously and all the necessary grounds for restoring stability, security and peace to the country must be provided.
Our most important agenda is to evaluate the efforts of the three countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey to end the Syrian crisis through peaceful means, fighting terrorism, assisting in the formation of a constitutional committee, return of refugees, exchange of detainees and abductees, improvement of humanitarian outreach, reconstruction as well as evaluation of international efforts in this field.
Now, two and a half years after the beginning of this process, in addition to its new results and achievements, we are witnessing the growth and strengthening of its position and influence in helping Syria and the international community to overcome its problems and tensions.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, believes that there is only a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and this can only be achieved through constructive interaction and participation by all Syrian people. The Syrian government and people -with all the diversity- are able to go through this crucial and, of course, dangerous path by themselves. The Islamic Republic of Iran has emphasised from the outset the inefficiency of a military solution to ending this crisis, and this fact is still true.
Now, after nearly nine years of the Syrian crisis, and based on the experiences gained, we still believe that the vision of regime change that some used to sought has failed. The Syrian crisis and other similar crises in the region must be resolved by peaceful means and by their own people. Our efforts over the past few years, and especially after focusing our activities on the Astana Process, have always been based on facilitating the process of dialogue and encouraging government and opposition to join it.
The fight against terrorism, especially ISIS, al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups, must continue in order to eliminate them completely in Syria. Of course, the health and safety of civilians should never be compromised. At the same time, the terrorists must not be allowed to use people as a human shield in a cowardly way. A proper solution must be found to save the innocent civilians who are in the hands of terrorists.
On such days last year, representatives of our partners in the Astana Process signed the Idlib Agreement in Sochi, and we also backed the agreement in the hope of driving the terrorists out and restoring Syrian government's control over the terrorist-controlled areas. Undoubtedly, one of the main goals of the Guarantors of the Astana Process in supporting its implementation was avoiding a widespread humanitarian crisis in the Idlib region. But the deal did not go as planned. Unfortunately, a few days after its signing, the terrorist-controlled areas not only did not decrease, but also increased unbelievably. This situation confirms the fact that terrorists must never be given the opportunity to abuse the field to their own advantage.
We have come together for the fifth time to evaluate the way we have come and make important decisions for the future that can help the Syrian people in portraying their future away from any foreign pressure and interference.
The common principles we emphasise are the continuation of the fight against terrorism to eradicate this disaster, dialogue and reconciliation, reducing tensions, reforming the constitution, return of refugees, exchange of detainees and rebuilding of Syria. A free and independent Syria, one that is not threatened by others or a base against others; a Syria away from foreign occupation and threat and free from terrorism; a united Syria, integrated with the preservation of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, one in which each of its children have their inherent, natural and citizenship rights. And in this way, only the Syrian people will decide for their future and others should not be allowed to interfere in their internal affairs.
Your Excellency Mr Putin,
Your Excellency Mr Erdogan,
I emphasise an important point:
The increased cooperation of the three guarantors can be a key guarantee in resolving the Syrian crisis and other regional crises. Foreigners are leaving this region today or tomorrow, but we've been, are, and will be neighbours.
Re-enacting the 1998 Adana Agreement between Syria and Turkey could be a good model for resolving both sides' concerns and starting the end of a bitter era.
Unlike other processes related to the Syrian crisis, the Astana Process has not sought to divide Syrian parties. Its main approach has always focused on resolving disputes through constructive interaction and trying to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. At the same time, the Astana Process has not been designed in contrast to other processes and initiatives.
The illegitimate presence of US troops on the Syrian soil jeopardises its territorial integrity and national sovereignty as an independent UN member state.
The US President spoke last year about his decision to return his country's troops from Syria, but the result was just like his other promises. Statement that have neither been realised in the past, nor a will be realised in the future.
I once again emphasise that the US troops must leave the area as soon as possible and that the Syrian government's control must expand in the east and north of the Euphrates, as in the rest of Syria.
The return of Syrian refugees from neighboring and non-neighboring countries and internally displaced persons to their homes can be a source of blessing to the host and the guest.
Postponing the start of the reconstruction process and making it conditional on interventionist political considerations that did not materialise during the war would only prolong the crisis and cause more harm to the Syrian people.
Accordingly, it is essential to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes as soon as possible and assist the Syrian people and government in rebuilding the country on the basis of the Syrian people's desire to eradicate past hostilities and build the future.
Revising and reforming the current Syrian constitution based on the will of the people of Syria can be an important step towards ending the current crisis. The efforts of the three countries and the UN Secretary-General's representative have made significant progress in the process of forming a constitutional committee. It is necessary to commend the constructive cooperation and engagement of the Syrian government in this field.
The Zionist Regime has increased the number of its acts of aggression on the Syrian soil in recent months, and its officials have claimed responsibility for the aggressions and have extended their attacks to Iraq and Lebanon. These attacks are a clear example of provocative and illegal hostile acts that can cause widespread tension and conflict in the region. Obviously, governments and nations in the region have the right, in accordance with the UN Charter, to defend themselves against such acts of aggression, while unfortunately international organisations do not respond appropriately to these aggressions.
At the end, I would like to thank the Honorable President of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the Turkish government, officials and great nation once again for hosting this important meeting.