Following the withdrawal of the US troops, Turkish armed forces launched an offensive in Syria which destabilised the country and, according to UN figures, has resulted in 180,000 people becoming internally displaced. The fact that the parties to the conflict managed to agree on a ceasefire has provided people on the ground with an important respite. The following points, which Foreign Minister Maas intends to discuss with his Turkish counterpart on Saturday in Ankara, are crucial if the country is to be stabilised on a lasting basis.
1. Stabilisation of the ceasefire
A ceasefire is the fundamental prerequisite for civilian engagement and reconciliation. The temporary ceasefire must be made permanent.
2. Humanitarian assistance
Refugees urgently require the necessary humanitarian assistance in line with UNHCR standards. Germany is the second-largest humanitarian donor in Syria and has pledged 500 million euros for 2019.
3. Support for the political process
The Syrian state should be rebuilt step by step in a political process. One month ago, the political players in Syria agreed on the make-up of the Constitutional Committee under the aegis of the United Nations. The first session is due to take place in just a few days’ time and represents a crucial start to this process. Germany is providing support by backing the negotiation process in Geneva by means of both personnel and funding.
4. Continuation of the fight against IS
It will not be possible to stabilise the country until terrorism in Syria has been fought on a permanent basis. Yesterday, the Bundestag extended the German engagement within the Global Coalition against Daesh.
Foreign Minister Maas said the following about this:
The IS has not been completely beaten, and even now it immediately makes use of every disagreement, every power vacuum, for its own ends.
5. Inclusion of international partners
The international community can only resolve the conflict in Syria if it works together. It is therefore important that it agrees on a joint road map and supports the UN process. Foreign Minister Maas travelled to Ankara on October 26th in order to discuss these issues with his Turkish counterpart. He also spoke to his Russian opposite about it on the phone last week.