More than seven years into the war in Syria the Presidents of Turkey, France and Russia and the German Chancellor have agreed on fundamental points for a peace process in Syria. Many commentaries in Western media have mainly searched for flies in the ointment. It is true that critical points are to be considered in further steps. Still, the wording of the common declaration of 27 October 2018 at the end of the meeting in Istanbul, to which they had been invited by the Turkish President, is a ray of hope. Nothing would be more important for the people in Syria, the refugees and displaced persons and all who are affected by this war, directly or indirectly, than concrete steps following this ray of hope.
It would be a blessing if there really was movement in world politics and one of the focal points of this world politics – the events in Syria stand in many respects for the developments in the entire region of North Africa as well as the Near and Middle East – could come more to rest.
There are signs for movement:
It is obvious that a peace process in Syria does not affect Syria alone and not just its immediate neighbour states but “global security and stability”, as the declaration states – not only from a military standpoint.
The Istanbul declaration also touches the issue of refugees and displaced persons. In his new book “Kritik der Migration” [Criticism of migration. Beneficiaries and losers], the Austrian publicist Hannes Hofbauer chose a fitting title for the question of the causes of Muslim migration: “The driving force: war”. Indeed: The wars of NATO states and their allies against (alleged) dictators and terrorists and the massive stirring of unrest in this region have brought an enormous death toll and vast destructions for North Africa and the Middle East. Here we should also repeat the words of the former parliamentary undersecretary and foreign affairs politician of the CDU, Willy Wimmer, cited by Hannes Hofbauer: “Between Afghanistan and Mali, the world is reduced to rubble under NATO’s thumb. Millions of people are being bombed out of their civilisation. A future is no longer possible for these countries, nor is one’s own life. […] War and unrest between Bangladesh and Nigeria, and economic considerations, too, create refugees.”
In the book “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire” by the US author Chalmers Johnson we could read, 18 years ago, that the imperialist US politics has to expect “blowbacks”, as Johnson calls it, and that the US will have to pay for their imperialist politics. This is what the European states experience now. They have supported imperialism and war politics against Africa and the Middle East almost unreservedly and actively; war was also the continuation of imperialist politics by other means. Is a rethinking beginning here and is the course about to change?
To name an example, a wrong policy has destabilised politics and society in Germany. The country of the “economic miracle”, which can rightly be called imperialistic, is torn; freedom, democracy and the state of law are seriously endangered; the public debate has become hysterical and the spectre of a “danger from the right” is anaesthetising the freedom, producing a mental conformity. This will lead to escalations. The large shifts in votes during the last years are just the tip of the iceberg. Angela Merkel’s announcement that she will stand down as candidate for chairman of her party, the CDU, and also not stand for chancellor again, is a very late but logical consequence of wrong political decisions for which Angela Merkel is responsible. So now the German governing parties must all the more be obliged to their word after they announced that they want to concentrate on the factual work.
But they have got to get it right. The agreement for a common declaration towards a peace process in Syria, with France, Turkey and Russia, is a step forward. If the current German government would really contribute to peace in Syria, it would also be a way to atone for wrong political decisions in the past years. •
President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the French Republic H.E. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin, and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany H.E. Angela Merkel gathered in Istanbul on 27 October 2018 for a Quadrilateral Summit on Syria.
The Presidents and the Chancellor,
The Presidents of the French Republic and the Russian Federation, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Turkey H.E.Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for hosting the Quadrilateral Summit in Istanbul.
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