The G20 summit will take place on November 15-16, 2015 in Belek, a spa town located 15 km from Antalya, the Turkey’s resorts heaven. 30 out of 45 most luxurious hotels of Turkish Mediterranean seashore have already been reserved to host heads of state, foreign and finance ministers, delegations, support teams and body guards.
The security measures taken by Turkey are very strict indeed. Actually, Belek has been under military and police blockade for the whole week. The United States has sent six F-16 fighters to Incirlik, the Turkish Air Force base located 400 km to the east of Antalya. USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, will join the Turkey’s Coast Guard to enhance security.
This is the first time in the G20 history (since 1999) when politics, not economy, will top the agenda. Political issues will be in focus of sideline bilateral and multilateral meetings of world leaders. The global security will prevail over the Middle East or European regional security problems.
Some Russian newspapers call the Belek meeting a security summit. The resolution of Syrian crisis, the fight against the Islamic State and the tide of refugees and illegal immigrants flooding Europe – these are the three issues to dominate agenda. The world is facing a global crisis. It would be absolutely reckless and irresponsible for G20 to tackle economic problems under the circumstances, especially in view that the majority of participants have joined the Western coalition which has been allegedly fighting the Islamic State delivering air strikes without achieving major success. They also take part in the talks that have been launched in Vienna to manage the Syria’s crisis.
19 states – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Canada, China, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Turkey, France, South Africa, and Japan – along with the European Union are parties to the leading international forum discussing global economy and finances. A meeting between US President Obama and Russian President Putin is expected, though it has not been officially confirmed as yet. Putin will also meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Five days before the event, media reported that Moscow has allegedly circulated a new eight-point peace proposal to be discussed at the Vienna talks on Syria (the next round will take place this weekend). Reuters claims to have obtained the document which says that Russia wants the Syrian government and opposition to agree on launching a constitutional reform process of up to 18 months, followed by early presidential elections. According to the proposal, «(the) popularly elected president of Syria will have the functions of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, control of special services and foreign policy». The proposed plan does not rule out Bashar al-Assad’s participation in the future elections. At the same time, it mentions that «the president of Syria will not chair the constitutional commission». This role could be performed only by a candidate unanimously approved by all the parties to take part in this week’s international conference on Syria to be held in Vienna.
Meanwhile, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has not confirmed that any Russian official peace plan on Syria’s crisis settlement has been prepared. The Ministry representatives said Russia only wants to share its vision of things. It does not have any strictly defined proposal on conflict management, said Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation responsible for relations with the Middle East and Africa. The Foreign Ministry denied that any document was being prepared by Russia for the international meeting on Syria to take place this week in Vienna. «This information does not correspond to reality», said the spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.
Today Moscow does not make a secret of what it wants to propose at the meeting in Turkey and what it expects from its partners in the West and the Arab world. First of all, it wants to make clear who the Syrian government, a party to the talks, can and should talk to? Since the civil war was unleashed in 2011, the United States and its Middle East allies have always been insisting that unconditional departure of President Bashar al-Assad must be a precondition for putting an end to violence and launching a dialogue (it would be interesting to know who are supposed to be parties to the proposed negotiation process?). Russia has always said that Assad is the only guarantor of stability. At least, it has proven to be right saying that the Assad’s opponents cannot come up with an alternative.
No united Syria opposition exists, there are no leaders to unite the opposing forces and there is no such thing as one vision of what the future of the country should be like. It is as simple as that. With Assad gone, the power would be seized by people unable to share it. That would lead to another cycle of civil war plunging the whole country into the quagmire of chaos. It could be even worse than that – the power could be grabbed by Islamic State or Al Qaeda cannibals to make the war spill over Syria and Iraq and spread to other countries of the region.
Moscow has no idea how to distinguish the militants belonging to «moderate» opposition from the ones who represent «immoderate» opponents of the Syria government, as well as how to make difference between the bullets fired by «moderate» and «immoderate» snipers, or how to identify a landmine laid by jihadists and a landmine laid by fighters of «moderate opposition».
From the very start, the Kremlin believed that any attempts to hob-nob with terrorists, all the more arming them, is a short-sighted hazardous policy. After Russia launched the military operation against the Islamic State, the United States and the European Union softened their positions. Nobody insists on immediate departure of Assad anymore, perhaps, except some representatives of divided «moderate» opposition. In Belek Russia would like to find out «firsthand» how serious are its partners about ending the Syria bloodshed.