Russia, Turkey, Iran fail in push for new Syrian constitution
Russia, Iran and Turkey, supporters of the main sides in Syria’s complex civil war, on Tuesday failed to agree on the makeup of a United Nations-sponsored Syrian constitutional committee but called for it to convene early next year to kick off a viable peace process. In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after the trio met the UN Syria peace envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in Geneva, they said the new initiative should be guided “by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement”. The foreign ministers of the three nations had hoped to seal their joint proposal on a committee - which could usher in elections - and win UN blessing for it. But the statement by the three made no mention of the composition of the panel, pointing to lingering disagreement over lists of candidates submitted by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his rebel adversaries. The Syrian government, which is backed by Moscow and Tehran, has not yet agreed to the committee, saying it will only support a process that alters Syria’s existing constitution. De Mistura, addressing a separate news conference, made clear the three powers had not nailed down a workable political forum yet, after years of abortive attempts at ending the bloody seven-year war. “I believe there is an extra mile to go in the marathon effort to ensure the necessary package for a credible, balanced and inclusive constitutional committee, and for including a balanced chairing arrangement and drafting body and voting threshold - to be established under UN auspices in Geneva,” he said. De Mistura, who will be replaced as UN envoy on January 7, praised the “significant joint input” from the three powers. The meeting marked a final moment in his fouryear tenure, which did not produce a breakthrough for peace.