ASTANA -- At the conclusion of an international conference Monday-Tuesday (January 23-24) in Astana aimed at securing peace in Syria, Kazakhstani citizens expressed pride in their country's role in the process.
"It's a very noble mission," Veronika Kuragina of Astana told Caravanserai, referring to Kazakhstan's hosting of the negotiations. "Thousands are dying ... It's possible that this very meeting ... will help the warring parties reach an agreement and that peace will return after all to the long-suffering Syrian land."
"You cannot insulate yourself from this war," Aidos Shakirov of Almaty told Caravanserai. "Syria has become a hotbed of international terrorism. Our fellow citizens from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries are travelling to Syria to join ISIL [the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'] ... The talks in Astana are our contribution to a peaceful future."
"The occurrence of the talks is an accomplishment in and of itself," Rauan Dautaliyev, a Shymkent civic leader and political scientist, told Caravanserai. "All sides support a cease-fire and are prepared to engage in further dialogue.
Kazakhstan's offer to host the peace talks continues a pattern of exerting regional leadership.
It chaired the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2010 and in 2015 agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency to host a low-enriched uranium fuel bank in Oskemen. The fuel bank is expected to begin operating this September.
Mechanism to monitor truce
Russia, Turkey and Iran participated in the negotiations in Kazakhstan, which came ahead of a new round of peace talks set to be hosted by the United Nations in Geneva next month.
Syrian opposition members and government officials took part, although the opposition refused to hold direct talks with the Syrian government.
The three countries sponsoring the talks agreed to establish a joint "mechanism" to monitor the frail truce in the war-torn country in place since December, AFP reported.
The sides will "establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, prevent any provocations and determine all modalities of the ceasefire," according to a final statement read by Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
"There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and... it can only be solved through a political process," the statement said.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura expressed his "hope that by strengthening the ceasefire in this Astana meeting we [will] see in Geneva genuine intra-Syrian negotiations".