ROMA, February 15. /TASS/. The year 2017 will pave the way for ending the Syrian conflict, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Ministry Angelino Alfano.
"The year 2017 will pave the way for ending the actual conflict (in Syria) because the ceasefire has been maintained," the UN envoy said.
The Italian top diplomat, in turn, expressed hope that during the next round of the Geneva talks on Syria, "a sustainable agreement would be reached." "A political agreement should, first and foremost, be aimed at returning the refugees, and second, at preventing the spread of international terrorism, since Syria has become its stronghold," Alfano said noting that the Astana meetings "are very important as far as the ceasefire is concerned." "But a long-term political agreement is unlikely to be reached there," he added.
The UN envoy pointed out that representatives of the Syrian armed opposition groups were expected to take part in the upcoming Geneva talks. "Representatives of those armed groups took part in the Astana meeting that had not been considered possible participants in the negotiation process. We want them to come to Geneva, too, because a peace agreement should be made with those who carry out military activities," the UN official said.
De Mistura went on to say that the meeting’s participants were particularly expected to discuss the new Syrian constitution. "The idea to divide Syria into zones of influence is the worst that there can be because we know for sure that it may lead to a protracted domestic struggle and instability. But that does not mean the future constitution will not contain provisions concerning administrative decentralization," the UN envoy concluded.
On February 23, the next round of talks on settling the Syrian crisis will be held in Geneva under the United Nations auspices, after almost a ten-month delay.