Russia denies Turkish claim of Syria congress postponement

Over the weekend, Turkish President's office announced that Russia put off the Congress because of Ankara's objection to an invitation for the Kurds.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday refuted a claim by Ankara that his country put off a summit to convene the parties to the Syrian civil war in a Congress, including the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) which Turkey opposes.

“We are currently harmonizing the agenda, dates and other organizational aspects of the Congress,” Moscow's official news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

He stated that there was no postponement whatsoever “because the date of the Congress has not been officially announced.”

Lavrov did not confirm earlier reports on the Turkish and Russian media that the summit was to take place on November 18.

Russia's convention of Syrian sides is dubbed "Syrian Peoples Congress" and is expected to be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Over the weekend, Turkish President's office announced that Russia put off the Congress because of Ankara's objection to an invitation for the Kurds.

Lavrov added that he hoped that the United Nations would support holding the congress, according to Reuters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Kremlin officials told Turkish authorities about the postponement.

Moscow seeks to end the six-year-long conflict through talks between the Damascus regime it militarily supports, the regime's armed Islamist opponents and the Kurds who by taking the third way have declared an autonomous region in the north, known as Rojava or Syrian Kurdistan.

Kalin added that the participation of the main Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was also canceled.

"Our communication with Russia is ongoing. Our President, too, will engage [in talks]," Kalin added.

Erdogan is set to embark on an official trip on November 13 to Moscow where he will sit down with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, reported state media on Monday.

Separate peace talks in Kazakhstan's Astana sponsored by Russia, the Syrian regime's other backer Iran, and the opposition guarantor Turkey entered the seventh round meanwhile. So far no concrete solution has been reached except an agreement on creating deconfliction zones.

PYD's armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) is the primary US-led Coalition ally in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian franchise of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that is fighting the Turkish state for larger Kurdish rights, and thus a "terrorist" group.

Washington and Moscow disagree with Ankara.

Putin’s Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentyev said last week that a “more active” involvement of the Kurds in a political solution for the Syrian conflict was an “issue."

“The question arises on how to involve the Kurds more actively in the post-conflict restoration and political resolution,” Lavrentyev said of the Kurds whose forces liberated the former IS capital of Raqqa last week.


Editing by Sam A.