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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 17.05.2019
Mr. President,
I would like to thank Undersecretaries-General Rosemary DiCarlo and Mark Lowcock for their briefings on the situation in Idlib.

We express our appreciation and gratitude to all humanitarian workers for their tireless efforts. These unsung heroes provide lifeline services to millions of Syrians in need.

Mr. President,
Let me repeat what has been said many times in this Chamber: A large-scale military assault on Idlib would cause a major humanitarian catastrophe. So far, we have been able to avoid a major tragedy thanks to the Idlib Memorandum of 17 September 2018.
It ensured relative calm in the province. It is extremely important for millions of people in Idlib that this remains the case.

The significant increase in ceasefire violations by the regime, with their number exceeding 600 since the last days of April, however, is deeply alarming.

We are faced with a disaster in the making. The recent aggression of the regime might displace additional hundreds of thousands of people. It carries serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond.

The civilian casualties caused by these indiscriminate attacks have reached over 500. There has been yet again an intense use of barrel bombs.

The regime deliberately targets civilians, schools and hospitals, with complete disregard of human life.

243 thousand people have already been displaced and the migration trend towards the north is on the rise.

On May 4th, an observation post of the Turkish Armed Forces was attacked and two of our personnel have been injured.

These actions can in no way be justified as fight against terrorism.
No country appreciates the need to combat terrorism better than Turkey. However, innocent people cannot be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism. This will only create new hotbeds of terrorism and extremism.

Mr. President,
The Idlib Memorandum also served the ultimate goal of accelerating the political process and finding a negotiated resolution to the crisis in Syria. It provides the oxygen for the political efforts.

The recent belligerence by the regime risks disrupting the political process, at a time when we are at the final stages of forming the Constitutional Committee.
We continue to coordinate with Russia in order to preserve the status of Idlib as a de-escalation area and to put an end to the regime’s violations.

President Erdoğan and President Putin are in close contact to discuss the measures to be taken to address the current situation on the ground.

Turkish and Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense keep their exchanges on a regular basis.

As a result of the contacts at the highest level, a Turkish-Russian Working Group convened in Ankara in the last two days in order to take the situation in Idlib de-escalation area under control.

The rest of the international community must also put every effort to ensure that the regime respects the ceasefire.

The regime has so many times committed crimes against humanity. The red lines have often been crossed. We cannot repeat the same mistake again. The consequences of inaction are immense.

Shelling as well as ground offensives must stop immediately.

Return to status quo ante is essential.

Mr. President,
We all agree that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria.
And we all agree that the only way to end this conflict is through a UN-mediated political process in line with the Security Council Resolution 2254.

Turkey and neighboring countries continue to bear the brunt of the humanitarian crisis in Syria. But our means and capabilities are not endless.

This Council is responsible for preventing a humanitarian catastrophe. It is time to take action. This requires unity, courage and resilience.

We cannot and should not leave the Syrian people to the mercy of the regime.
As to the statement of the regime representative, I do not consider him as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people; therefore, I will not honor him with a response.

Thank you very much.