Was the Recent Istanbul Summit’s Call for a Political Resolution in Syria Realistic?
The Istanbul summit was only marginally about a political solution in Syria (on which no new breakthroughs were achieved), and was, instead, focused largely on enforcing the Sochi agreement over Idlib. The Europeans have a strong interest in its implementation in order to prevent a further exodus of refugees.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, Europe has seen its interests frustrated and its influence sidelined. By joining an ongoing conversation between Russia and Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron indirectly acknowledged the weight and recent diplomatic achievements of the Astana powers—Russia, Turkey, and Iran. By effectively signing up to an agenda already set by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Europeans sought to preserve some influence.