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Meeting with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

November 22, 2017, Sochi

Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Sochi with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The talks were devoted to the Syrian settlement process, taking into account the joint work in the Astana format. The participants in the meeting discussed further steps to ensure the long-term normalisation of the situation in Syria.

joint statement by the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey was adopted following talks.

Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan also made statements for the press.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rouhani, Mr Erdogan, colleagues,

First, I would like to thank all of you for accepting the invitation and coming to Russia, to Sochi, to discuss our continued joint work on Syria.

Large-scale military operations against terrorist gangs in Syria are coming to an end. I should note that the joint efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey helped to prevent the disintegration of Syria and its capture by international terrorists and to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. Indeed, militants in Syria have suffered a decisive blow, and now there is a real chance to end the civil war that has lasted many years.

Less than a year ago, we initiated the launch of the Astana process, taking responsibility for guaranteeing the implementation of the agreements reached and promoting the inter-Syrian dialogue in Geneva under the aegis of the United Nations. For the first time, it was possible to bring together at one table representatives of the government and the armed opposition.

I want to note the special role of the President of Turkey and the President of Iran. Without the stance you took, the Astana process would not have existed: there would have been no cessation of hostilities, no ceasefire, no de-escalation zones.

As a result of seven rounds of meetings in Astana, crucial decisions for Syria have been adopted and are being implemented, the ceasefire has been observed, and four de-escalation zones have been established and are functioning in key regions of the country. It can be stated with certainty that we have reached a new stage that opens up the possibility of starting a real political settlement process.

I believe we should focus our efforts on ensuring long-term normalisation in Syria. I am primarily referring to the political settlement process, with the finalisation of the Geneva talks and assistance for the country’s post-conflict recovery. The current meeting is aimed precisely at resolving this strategic task.

We will discuss in detail further joint steps to consolidate and build on the afore-mentioned positive changes in Syria. We will exchange views on how to impart a powerful impetus to the political settlement process on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Let me recall that this document provides for launching a broad inter-Syrian dialogue with the participation of all ethnic, religious and political groups in Syria without exception.

This is the goal of the Russia-supported initiative to convene the Syrian National Dialogue Congress here in Sochi. I suggest discussing the parameters of this forum today. The Syrian people are to decide their future themselves and determine the principles underlying the structure of their government. Obviously, the reform process will not be easy and will require compromise and concessions from all of its participants, including the Syrian Government. I hope that Russia, Iran and Turkey will do their utmost to make this work productive. I am sure that success of the forthcoming reforms will largely depend on resolving Syria’s socio-economic issues: the restoration of industry, agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare systems and education.

The humanitarian aspect is no less important. It includes targeted aid to the population, demining of liberated territories and assistance in the return of refugees.

Incidentally, after the implementation of our decisions on de-escalation zones, hundreds and even thousands of refugees are already returning home. Considering the enormous scale of destruction, we could think together about developing a long-term programme for Syria’s comprehensive recovery.

Experts of our countries conducted serious preparations for discussing substantive issues at the current talks, so I am confident that the discussion will be detailed and productive, and the agreements reached will help further restore peace and security in Syria and consolidate its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in general facilitate stabilisation in the Middle East.

Colleagues, I thank you for your attention. I would like to give the floor to President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. Then we would like to hear from our friend, President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdogan.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (retranslated): In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Mr Putin, President of the Russian Federation,

Mr Erdogan, President of Turkey,

I would like to thank Mr Putin, the President of Russia, for organising this important and frank meeting in the beautiful city of Sochi. I sincerely thank you for that.

It is gratifying that in the course of less than one year since the beginning of the Astana process, our three countries – the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey – have made extensive efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, and paved the way for a political settlement of the crisis in Syria. Today, new prospects for ending the crisis in Syria are opening up. I am very happy that our three countries, while emphasising the territorial integrity, national sovereignty, independence and unity of Syria, have pledged to closely cooperate in order to create peace and stability in Syria.

From the very beginning, the crisis in Syria was accompanied by direct foreign intervention, including comprehensive, all-round support and equipment and weapon supplies for the militant groups that later formed the backbone of ISIS and al-Nusra, and which were used to further fan the flames of terrorism in this country. This has been an important factor in prolonging the crisis.

Fortunately, today the main pillars of ISIS have been destroyed. The remaining terrorist groups are on the verge of collapse. We owe this victory, without a doubt, to the brave people of Syria, and to the volunteers, soldiers and brave young people who destroyed the devilish fortresses of terrorism and extinguished the flame of evil. These people are the vanguard of the international community in combating the abominable barbarism that threatens the entire human race. We need to continue our fight against terrorism to eradicate the last terrorist cells and all the con men in Syria, so that the Syrian people no longer suffer under the yoke of terrorism and terrorist acts.

If other peoples and countries in the region learn something from this artificial crisis of Syria, let it be this: some powers that claim to pursue democracy and human rights will not hesitate to make extensive use of the tools of terrorism and violence in order to achieve their short-sighted objectives in the region. The lesson, which these powers have not learned yet, is that the aftermath of supporting terrorism and extremism will not be confined to just one region; this evil will spread to all regions in the world.

Today the region is on the threshold of new conditions for eliminating violence. Those who bred terrorism are attempting to bring about a new crisis as they are concerned that terrorism has been defeated and that violent Salafism might spread to their countries. They are putting at risk the stability that has been created and the efforts that have been made by regional nations, including Iran.

For six years, the Syrian people fought terrorism that was funded and supplied with weapons and intelligence by foreign nations, and it needed friendly nations and governments to aid it in this unequal struggle. In that respect, the Islamic Republic of Iran was the first nation, the first government to answer the call of the government and the people of Syria to help them fight terrorism. We answered this call and lent our support to the unified Syrian government. We provided support to the people of Syria to restore peace and safety, to fight and eliminate terrorists, and to prevent a repeat of the pattern of destabilisation of Muslim countries like the one we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran has used all the means at its disposal to provide security, to restore these two countries and to fight terrorism. We have cooperated with the legitimate governments of these countries on this. We take a very serious stance with regard to fighting terrorism and we are ready to provide other countries with our assistance in this field at their request.

Unfortunately, some countries active in our region are following the examples of the United States and the Zionist regime to sow discord and hatred between the peoples of the region and to shift the responsibility for the outcomes of their hostile policy that seeks to tear the region apart.

The struggle against strife and unrest is one of the manifestations of the practical policy of Iran, which is taking an active part in the Astana format. Our strategy lies in joint actions and competition, coordination and oversight, cooperation with nations, and friendship rather than hostility.

All efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on the principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter, legitimate cooperation and support for regional stability. By pooling our efforts, we have destroyed the decaying body of terror in Syria and dispersed the dark shadow of ISIS in that country. We have outlined a clear future for the region.

In our conditions, our noble mission is not only to combat terrorism but also to root out various forms of discrimination and poverty by force. This is why we must expand and deepen contacts and regional institutions. Using this approach we may develop a more powerful region and use all its advantages together.

Now that we are on the eve of the Syrian National Dialogue Conference, I consider it necessary to make some points on achieving results.

First. The struggle against terrorism is not yet over and we must by no means give up our efforts to counter the spread of terrorism in the region in the light of recent victories over ISIS. We must help the people of Syria to continue their struggle until terrorism in their country is fully defeated.

Respect for the national sovereignty of Syria is an inalienable part of this struggle. There is no excuse for the presence of foreign troops on the territory of Syria without the permission of its legitimate Government.

After many years of struggle against terrorism and its patrons, Syrians are now in a position to use the new conditions to build a future where their needs are met and there is national and ethnic diversity, and stable popular democracy based on the power of the people. The people of Syria will not allow foreigners to interfere in their domestic affairs. Naturally, they will resist any attempts to encroach on their national sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence.

Third. The role of the international community in the future of Syria should, of course, be focused on providing assistance to the people of that country in order for them to be able to achieve stability, to put an end to the suffering of this nation, to foreign interference and the imposition of the views of others on the people of Syria.

The provision of comprehensive humanitarian aid is an important part of the political agenda. In order to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, it is necessary to include this in the agenda, and to create the necessary conditions for the voluntary return of refugees to their native lands. Countries and international organisations must cooperate here.

The recovery of Syria, as well as economic development in that country, requires the full support of the international community with an emphasis on rebuilding damaged and destroyed infrastructure, as well as creating production opportunities in that country, including the participation of the countries of the region. Our meeting today opens this new stage. Our joint efforts over the past 11 months have shown that, only with political coordination of cooperation and proper implementation of agreements, were we able to be successful in stopping terrorism and violence.

With regard to the National Congress, for it to succeed, it is imperative to coordinate the positions of all three countries at all levels.

In closing, I would like to thank the people and the government of Kazakhstan for making the Astana meeting possible; the people and the government of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, the government and the people of Russia, and Mr Putin for coordinating and holding the Astana meetings. I sincerely thank you all.

I hope that the continuation of this trilateral cooperation will provide fertile ground for the speedy settlement of the crisis in Syria and the resolution of this debilitating conflict.

Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr President.

We are all well aware that a special burden falls on Turkey’s shoulders due to the large influx of refugees. This is an unprecedented situation. Hundreds of thousands, millions of people are located on the territory of the Republic of Turkey.

I would like now to give the floor to Mr Erdogan, the President of Turkey.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Thank you very much.

Mr President, dear friends,

I would like to say how pleased I am to be here in Sochi with you. To my friend, Mr Putin, thank you for receiving all three of us here.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention the earthquake Iran suffered last week. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured and I would like to say, may Allah put at rest the souls of both our Iranian and Iraqi brothers.

Today’s trilateral council is of great importance for finally stopping the bloodshed and putting an end to the tragedy that has lasted for many years. The whole world has seen the progress Turkey, Russia and Iran have made in their efforts on the Syrian issue.

I would also like to express my gratitude to President Nazarbayev for the event for which he provided the venue in Kazakhstan. Our meetings in Astana were of benefit to the whole region, praise Allah.

The results that we have achieved are significant but we do not consider them sufficient. We believe that stakeholders should make a significant contribution to establishing political stability and providing a lasting settlement of this issue for the Syrian people.

The heads of our countries’ militaries have met. As for this trilateral summit, it will sum up the results of all the meetings that have been held. I believe that we will leave this place having achieved good results. I believe that we will make critical decisions today. With this feeling, I pray to Allah that this summit benefits all.

Thank you very much.

November 22, 2017, Sochi