Statement by H.E. Mr. Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Security Council Meeting on "the Situation in the Middle East"

Feridun H.Sinirlioğlu 17.10.2018
Mr. President,

I would like to thank Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura for his comprehensive briefing. He identified the main challenges ahead on the political track. As his mission comes to an end, I would also like to express our deep appreciation to Mr. De Mistura for his tireless efforts towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Before sharing our views on the way forward, I would like to provide an update on the implementation of the Idlib Memorandum.

The Memorandum signed at the Sochi Turkish-Russian Summit a month ago, has stabilized the situation in the Idlib province.

Thanks to this Memorandum, the de-escalation status of Idlib could be preserved.

Since my last statement to this Council on Syria, considerable progress has been made in the implementation of the Memorandum on the following points:

· Cessation of hostilities has been established.
· The borders of the demilitarized zone in Idlib have been determined.
· Withdrawal of heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone has been completed before the October 10 deadline.
· Significant progress has been achieved on the withdrawal of radical groups from the demilitarized zone. We are continuing our efforts to this end.
· We are working on the modalities of coordinated patrols together with Russia, as well as other measures to strengthen the sustainability of the ceasefire regime.
· Thanks to the Memorandum, further bloodshed and a humanitarian tragedy in Idlib have been averted.
· Relieved with the improvement of the situation on the ground, tens of thousands of Syrians have started to return to their homes in Idlib.

Following months of fear in anticipation of a full-scale assault, the Memorandum has given civilians in Idlib respite and raised their hopes for a peaceful solution.
The Memorandum has also proven that the situation in Idlib can be adressed through effective diplomacy.

The de-escalation status of Idlib still remains crucial:
(A)- to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,
(B)- to pave the way for the advancement of the political process,
- and (C) to create the necessary conditions to fight terrorism effectively and in line with international humanitarian law.

Our priority now is to seize this momentum to advance the political process. With this understanding, we strongly and actively support Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s efforts to establish the Constitutional Committee as soon as possible. We are working closely with the other Astana guarantors and Mr. de Mistura towards this end.

The Constitutional Committee requires a credible, inclusive and balanced structure. This is essential for its legitimacy. The Committee will be the key to achieve the ultimate goal of finding a negotiated political solution in Syria in line with the Security Council Resolution 2254.

Its work will pave the way for holding free and fair elections under UN supervision with the participation of all Syrians, including those who are living outside.

Any attempt to design a political system for Syria without Syrian ownership would lack legitimacy and be detrimental. The political process must be owned and led by the Syrians themselves, not by those deciding on their behalf.

Mr. President,

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

In order to give a fresh impetus to the efforts to put an end to the conflict, Turkey has introduced the idea of hosting a Quadrilateral Summit with the participation of France, Germany and Russia.

Our main objective is to contribute to the efforts to find a convergence of ideas to reach a sustainable political solution.

Talks among the four countries to set the date and agenda of the Summit are underway.
We believe that this initiative will be helpful in supporting the efforts towards a political settlement.

Mr. President,

The conflict in Syria is in its eighth year at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives lost and millions forcibly displaced both within and beyond Syria's borders.

There is an urgent need for concerted efforts to end this colossal human tragedy, meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and pave the way for a lasting peace.

Turkey will continue its efforts to achieve a viable political solution in Syria: A solution that is owned and led by Syrians. A solution that is based on a lasting ceasefire on the ground that allows for a meaningful political process.

It is high time that the Security Council puts its weight behind efforts to that end.

Mr. President,
Finally, I do not deem the regime representative as my legitimate counterpart. Therefore, I will not honor his delusional accusations by a response.

Thank you.