TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
(Kremlin.ru – December 29, 2016)
Mr Shoigu and Mr Lavrov briefed the President on work to resolve the Syrian crisis, in particular, agreements reached between the Syrian government and the opposition on a ceasefire and readiness to begin peace talks.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
The news has just come in that this morning, a few hours ago, an event that we not just long since hoped for but also worked hard for has taken place. Three documents have been signed. The first is an agreement between the Syrian government and the armed opposition on a ceasefire on the Syrian Arab Republic’s territory. The second document agrees a series of measures to monitor the ceasefire. The third document is a statement of readiness to start peace talks on ending the Syrian conflict.
The Russian Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry were in constant contact with our partners in Damascus and other capitals and worked hard together with our partners in Turkey.
We know that the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers recently held a trilateral meeting in Moscow, at which all three countries committed themselves to not simply monitoring but also guaranteeing the peace process in Syria.
I would like to hear your analysis of the events currently underway, and we will discuss the next steps in this peace process. We realise that the agreements reached are very fragile and require particular attention, patience, a professional approach to the issues, and constant contact with our partners in the region.
Mr Shoigu, you have the floor.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, acting on your instruction, the Defence Ministry, with Turkey acting as intermediary, spent two months in talks with leaders of the groups that make up the moderate Syrian opposition. These groups control the greater part of areas in Syria’s central and northern regions not under control of the government in Damascus. These detachments have more than 60,000 fighters. The most influential field commanders from seven opposition groups took part in the talks.
At the same time, we carried out the same work with the Syrian government. The talks made it possible for the parties to reach a common position and sign these three basic agreements that introduce a ceasefire, establish a monitoring regime, and set out procedures for organising talks on a peace settlement of the Syrian conflict.
The Defence Ministry has established a communications hotline for maintaining cooperation with Turkey, which is acting jointly with Russia as a guarantor of the ceasefire and respect for the agreements reached.
If you decide to let these agreements take effect, we are ready to guarantee the ceasefire’s introduction and organise ongoing monitoring to ensure it is respected.
I think that the conditions are in place now for a ceasefire to take effect on Syria’s territory and establish direct dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition groups that seek to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. This also creates the conditions we need to be able to reduce Russia’s military presence on Syrian territory.
Mr President, the groups with whom the talks were conducted are presented here. (Watch presentation.) They all signed these agreements this morning. In terms of their territorial location, here you see the territory under these groups’ control.
To be continued