Russian Deputy FM: Kurds should be at Syria peace talks

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has said that Kurdish groups must participate in the Syrian peace talks.

Speaking at a conference in Moscow, Bogdanov said, “We believe that Kurdish representatives should join the Syria meetings”.

Bogdanov also said that he hoped for the Syrian opposition participating in the peace talks organised in Geneva would be able to form a joint delegation.

The fourth round of talks in Geneva, where the main Kurdish groups in Syria are not being represented, started on 23 February after almost a year-long break,

Gennady Gatilov, also a deputy at Russia’s foreign ministry, had likewise criticised the United Nations for not inviting the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) to the current round of talks in Geneva.

The Istanbul-based and Turkish-backed Kurdish National Council (KNC), however, is currently in Geneva participating in the talks. The group, who has been invited to both the Astana and the Geneva talks in the past, does not have popular support or visibility on the ground in the region.

KNC member Abdulhakim Bashar on Tuesday told Turkish state news agency AA that his organisation would “bring to the table the violations committed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria’s north” at the Geneva talks.

Russian officials have previously stated that the Turkish government was blocking the PYD, seen by Ankara as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), from participating in Syrian peace talks.