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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 18.06.2019
Mr. President,

Thank you for organizing this timely meeting. I would also like to thank Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo and Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock for their briefings depicting the grave situation in Idlib.

Unfortunately, ceasefire violations are still on the rise. Consequences of the attacks by the regime against civilians are dire. So far, these have caused hundreds of casualties, over 300.000 displaced people and severe damage to health facilities and schools.

We are particularly alarmed by attacks on medical facilities whose location has been notified under the UN de-confliction mechanism.
This seriously undermines the very purpose of these notifications to allow for humanitarian access while increasing the security of humanitarian actors in the field. The continued targeting of health facilities will only generate more displacement, instability and suffering for the 3,5 million Syrians living in this area. The de-confliction mechanism should be fully implemented and the ceasefire must be respected without delay.

Mr. President,

Turkey is fully committed to the Sochi Memorandum and has clearly demonstrated this by concrete action on the ground – at the risk of putting our soldiers’ lives in grave danger.
The regime’s attacks undermine our efforts to implement the Memorandum. They must stop.

Over the last weeks, our observation posts in the Idlib De-Escalation Area have been repeatedly targeted by the regime. Most recently, observation post no. 10 was seriously hit twice by mortar fire from regime-controlled areas on 4th of May and 13th of June. 5 Turkish soldiers were wounded during these attacks. A recent aggression over the weekend on observation post no. 9 with mortar fire and shelling also caused damage. These attacks are unacceptable and in clear violation of, inter alia, the Sochi Memorandum.
We must take precautions to protect the lives of our military servicemen on the ground. We will not hesitate to take decisive action to this end. We will keep our observation posts operational, despite threats.

We will also continue at all levels to coordinate our efforts with Russia in order to put an end to the regime’s violations and preserve the status of Idlib as a de-escalation area. As a matter of fact, yesterday Defense Ministers of Turkey and Russia discussed the situation in Idlib and agreed to uphold their commitments under the Sochi Memorandum.
It is clear that combatting terrorism does not absolve any party from its obligations stemming from international law to prevent attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. Fight against terrorism can in no way justify these indiscriminate attacks. The use of barrel bombs indicates a complete disregard for human life.

As a country with a long history of fighting terrorism, we strongly condemn terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations. The HTS is an acute problem aggravated by the presence of foreign terrorist fighters. However, the HTS problem cannot be overcome by targeting civilians.

We need to address the HTS problem with a more sophisticated and comprehensive long-term strategy, targeting its ideology and structure. Progress in the political process will be one of the key elements to this end.
Establishment of the Constitutional Committee will be the first step in that direction.

Mr. President,

We are at a critical stage towards the finalization of the formation of the Constitutional Committee.

The convening of the Committee will be the first essential step of the international community’s efforts towards a democratic Syria. All sides should assume their responsibilities and support efforts to convene the first meeting of the Committee.

We want to see a stable, peaceful and democratic Syria that preserves its political unity and territorial integrity; a Syria that is governed according to the legitimate aspirations of its people. We can only achieve this through a political solution on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

There will be no lasting humanitarian solution without a credible political process. If the Idlib de-escalation area cannot hold, prospects for a viable political solution will diminish considerably. Ongoing attacks by the regime clearly aim at the collapse of the political process.

Mr. President,
Let us be clear: The responsibility to prevent a major catastrophe in Idlib lies not only with the parties to the Sochi Memorandum, but with the Council as well. What we are seeing in Idlib cannot be allowed to continue. This latest chapter in the Syrian conflict is an affront to all humanity. Enough blood has been shed. All efforts should now prioritize the needs of millions of Syrians who have suffered tremendously and are putting their faith in us.

As to the hallucinatory statement made by the Syrian regime representative, I will repeat, I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart, his presence here is an affront to the millions of Syrians who suffered countless crimes at the hands of the regime and therefore I will not honor his delusional accusations with a response.

Thank you.