Kurz promotes continuation of Syria talks in Vienna

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz calls for a renewal of the Syria talks in Vienna. [EPA-EFE/FLORIAN WIESER]

After the recent escalation in the Syrian conflict, the Austrian government is launching an initiative to resume the Syria talks that were launched in Vienna in 2015. EURACTIV Germany reports from Vienna.

At the end of October 2015, talks began in Vienna to end the war in Syria and bring about a peace agreement. Representatives from more than twenty states, as well as the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, called for an immediate resumption of peace talks and a permanent ceasefire.

The appeal fell on deaf ears. Most recently, the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) met in January this year, again without any noteworthy result.

The recent use of chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta region has mainly mobilised the western camp, although it has been heavily denounced by Russia, as an ally of the Assad regime.

Although only the US, France and Britain carried out a targeted retaliatory strike on Syrian institutions in the night from Saturday to Sunday, the action has found broad support, including from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Austria did not join the diplomatic protests against Russia after the poison gas attack on a double spy in Britain. However, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s answer to the retaliatory strike in Syria did not lack clarity.

“This latest attack with chemical weapons against the civilian population has been shocking and is to be condemned in the strongest terms. In view of the UN Security Council blockade, I understand this limited military action aimed at preventing further war crimes involving chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.

Together with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, the Austrian Chancellor has made an offer to resume the Syria negotiations, which began in 2015 and have been interrupted over and over again:

“I therefore urge the responsible actors to hold political talks under UN mediation and to comply with international law, to relieve the people of Syria who have already suffered enough.”

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There was no lack of verbal support for this initiative. For German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, it is clear that “the military strikes have at least made it clear to all those involved that…. there is a need to resume the political process.”

Moreover, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has expressed a wish that “the voice of Europe grows louder, and that Europe can play an increasingly important role in the Mediterranean.”

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