Statement by Turkey at Security Council Meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 18.09.2018
Mr. President,

Let me start by expressing our condolences to our Russian friends for their losses of yesterday.

As the distinguished Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation explained, the Summit between Turkish and Russian Presidents in Sochi yesterday focused on the situation in Idlib. I also would like to share our views on the outcome of this Summit.

First, I would like to remind you the quote from President Erdoğan that I have underlined in this Chamber last week:

“Idlib is the last exit before the toll… If the international community fails to take action now, not only innocent civilians, but the entire world stands to pay the price.”

With this awareness, President Erdoğan and President Putin met in Sochi yesterday. This Summit was an expression of their determination to find a peaceful solution to address a major humanitarian disaster in Idlib.

The Summit offered an opportunity to discuss ways and means to implement the understanding reached in Teheran last Friday, in line with the Astana spirit of cooperation.

The agreement reached in Sochi is built on the Astana de-escalation arrangement and aims to achieve the following:

-To stabilize the situation and preserve the de-escalation area in Idlib;
-To create the necessary conditions to fight terrorism effectively and in line with international humanitarian law;
-To prevent a humanitarian catastrophe;
-To pave the way for the advancement of the political process.

The MoU we are going to circulate together with our Russian friends, which was signed by the Turkish and Russian Defense Ministers yesterday foresees the creation of a demilitarized zone.

The two sides agreed to continue on working on the details of this arrangement.

In line with the MoU:

-All heavy weaponry will be withdrawn from this zone by October 10.
-All terrorist groups will be removed until October 15.
-The existing Turkish observation posts will be fortified.
- Russia will take all necessary measures to prevent military operations and attacks on Idlib.
-Turkey and Russia will conduct coordinated patrols on both sides of the demilitarized zone.
-The Coordination Center among Astana guarantors will be reinforced in order to strengthen the sustainability of the ceasefire regime.
-Additional measures will be taken to ensure free movement of people and goods.

Mr. President,

In his briefing, the USG Mr. Lowcock once again depicted the dire humanitarian situation in Idlib. The MoU primarily aims at averting a looming humanitarian tragedy that people in Idlib are facing.

This arrangement will not only prevent a military attack to Idlib, but also serve the ultimate goal of accelerating the political process and finding a negotiated solution in Syria.

As mentioned by Special Envoy Mr. De Mistura, efforts to finalize the Constitutional Committee are underway.

Turkey wishes:
- the acceleration of efforts for the establishment of an inclusive and credible Committee,
- holding of free and fair elections under UN supervision,
- and addressing Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations for a democratic future in line with UNSC Resolution 2254.

We reiterate our call to this Council and to the overall international community to support our endeavors and expedite the political process.

Our collective efforts to fight terrorism will contribute to the creation of viable conditions to this end.

In Sochi, Turkish and Russian Presidents reaffirmed their resolve to fight terrorism in Idlib and beyond. We will continue to combat all terrorist groups, including PYD/YPG, which seek to undermine the territorial integrity of Syria and which represents a direct threat to Turkey’s national security. This should be a common source of concern for all of us.

Mr. President,

As I underlined before this Council on September 11, the international community must shoulder its responsibility and throw its weight behind a political solution.

Millions of Syrians who have suffered tremendously are putting their faith in us. They deserve a better future. They deserve to shape the future of their homeland. We should and can not fail them...

Thank you.