The leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey gathered in Istanbul on Saturday, for a summit to discuss the future of Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held both separate and joint meetings, as violence in Syria’s Idlib province, which is the last remaining major jihadist stronghold in the war-torn-country, highlighted the fragility of a Russian-Turkish deal to avert a massive government offensive. During a joint Press Conference of the four leaders, which concluded the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that the creation of the demilitarized zone in Idlib could only serve as a temporary measure, while underscoring his hope to see Turkey follow through on its commitments to the agreement. “The creation of the demilitarized zone as well as the zone of de-escalation in Idlib is a temporary measure. We hope the Turkish side in the near future will secure the final withdrawal by the opposition of heavy weaponry and military units from the demilitarized zone. We see that our Turkish partners are doing everything possible for that,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on her part, emphasized that a solution to the Syria conflict could not be a military one – underlining that a political process under the United Nations was vital for peace. “A complete solution cannot be a military one but in the end it can only be a political process under the auspices of the United Nations,” German Chancellor Avgela Merkel said.
While the focus of the high-level summit aimed at resolving the Syria conflict; Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that the international community must work together to eliminate the radical Islamic elements in Syria that have gain military experience and will most probably to attempt to export their knowhow and ideology to other countries. “Despite the fact that the level of violence in Syria has significantly decreased, elimination of all the radical elements concentrated there remains one of the most important problems. We must not let the militants, who got combat experience, continue the criminal activity, create sleeping cells in our countries, recruit the followers, preach extremist ideology and terror,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.