Statement by Turkish Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Güven Begec at the UN Security Council open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: Conflicts in Europe”

Güven Begeç 21.02.2017
Mr. President,

I wish to thank you for organizing this important open debate. I also wish to thank the Secretaries General (UN Secretary-General António Guterres, OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier, and Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid) for demonstrating through their participation a strong commitment to the issue at hand and for their excellent/valuable briefings.

It is no secret that this is not the world and state of affairs we were hoping to face 25 years after the end of the Cold War. As in other parts of the world, the conflicts in and around Europe threaten international peace and stability, and should be properly addressed by the Security Council as the primary body tasked with “the maintenance of international peace and security”. We support any discussion on the challenges in doing that, specially under this format.

But first, as delegations speaking before us have done, I wish to put on record briefly our position on these conflicts. Then I’ll be sharing with you our assessment of the situation surrounding these conflicts along with some recommendations.

Turkey aligns itself with the statement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [that will be] delivered by Uzbekistan on Nagorno Karabakh and OIC-UN cooperation.

The Nagorno Karabakh conflict continues to be the most important impediment for peace, stability and cooperation in the South Caucasus. Last year’s incidents confirmed once again that the status-quo is neither acceptable nor sustainable and that this conflict can no longer be regarded as a “frozen” one. As a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, Turkey remains committed to supporting all efforts to find a just and viable solution to the conflict through peaceful means within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.

The situation in and around Ukraine poses a direct challenge to international peace and security. Also as a co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution 68/262, we do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. Turkey supports all efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the situation in Ukraine, including Crimea, based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international law.

Turkey pays special attention to the security and well-being of Crimean Tatars. The situation of the Crimean Tatar people and their problems should be duly addressed by international organizations.

The situation in Donbas is still tense and fragile. Full adherence by all parties to Minsk agreements is still the only way forward.

Turkey fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We are committed to contributing to any effort that will resolve the conflicts peacefully. On the other hand, we shall not welcome any step that would hamper Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The relatively peaceful and stable environment in the Balkans is becoming increasingly fragile. The international community should be vigilant about potential challenges which threaten both political stability and security of the region.

Mr. President,

Again, we welcome the constructive exchange of ideas in this open debate and wish to contribute to the discussion by sharing our views and recommendations on the questions asked in the presidency’s concept paper.

“Lack of Will”
As one recent report has underlined, in most cases, chronic conflicts have sustained due to a lack of will on the part of at least one side to the conflict. But the problem of “lack of political will” is not restricted to the parties of the conflict. It extends to the very members of the Security Council, the primary body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.

“Tools available to the Council”
The Council does possess the necessary mandate and most of the tools to prevent and manage conflicts under the [UN] Charter. However, history clearly demonstrates that, in most cases, the failure to take action stems from the lack of political will on the part of one or more Council members, and the threat or use of veto.

“Reform”
That is why the Council needs to be reformed. And any model to be considered should alleviate these problems, not consolidate them. So, Turkey, as a member of the Uniting for Consensus Group, supports a model that foresees an expansion of the number of elected members only.

“Veto”
But the threat or use of veto is a pressing issue even beyond the discussion of reform. It is closely related to the working methods of the Council in its current format. In most cases of a veto, it is impossible to differentiate between a motivation to advance international peace and security or national interest. Whatever the motivation, the outcome is a UN whose credibility is being undermined at each occasion.

We think that at least under certain conditions the use of veto should be limited. Hence, we support the initiatives aimed at limiting the use of veto or negative vote in cases of mass atrocities. Finally, in the reformed Council, there should be no new members with veto rights.

“Tools available to the Secretary General”
Needless to say, especially in situations where certain factors prevent the Council from discussing a matter, referring to Article 99 of the Charter, according to which the Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security, becomes more critical.

“UN’s cooperation with other organizations”
We regard the OSCE as the most prominent regional security organization as foreseen in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. The OSCE geography is beset by a number of very important crises, some of which have been lingering for decades. The OSCE has shown its usefulness in intervening and containing crises, to the extent possible.

OSCE plays a crucial role in Ukraine with the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) headed by Ambassador Apakan. The Trilateral Contact Group and its four working groups also have vital contributions to make with regard to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

UN's cooperation with other organizations, including the EU contributes to the maintenance of international peace and security. Peace operations have been examples of such collaboration. And Turkey has been a longstanding contributor to the international presence and initiatives in the Balkans.

“Lessons learned”
I believe, for future guidance, we should take a closer look at the lessons learned from the more successful examples of the Council’s and Secretaries General’s performance in conflicts.

“Other measures”
Other measures that can help the Council better respond to conflicts could be striking the right balance between thematic debates and conflict-specific situations; revisiting the penholder system to increase the interaction among the Council members, particularly with the non-permanent members; making more use of information by the Secretariat through horizon scanning sessions, DPA briefings and similar formats in a way that would create awareness on possible and emerging conflicts; and using the available tools such visiting missions more efficiently.

Mr. President,

As we keep our focus and collective efforts on and finding comprehensive and sustainable solutions to the conflicts in Europe and other parts of the world, we should also be mindful of preventing new ones from emerging by intervening in the early stages.

The Security Council has the primary role in maintaining international peace and security. Tackling the obstacles that hinder the Council’s ability to perform its most crucial duty is an urgent necessity. I believe today’s discussion has been fruitful in understanding the nature of these.

Thank you for organizing it.