Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on "The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question"

Baki İlkin 13.02.2007
Mr. President,

As Turkey has aligned itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Germany on behalf of the European Union, I will underline just a few points which we deem to be of critical importance at this juncture in the Middle East.

Mr. President,

The events in the region once again depict a grim reality for the international community. The complex webs of issues in the region are certainly more interconnected and entangled than ever. The Middle East Peace Process continues to be stalled. The recent internal strifes in Palestine and Lebanon have further complicated and deteriorated the situation.

With respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there is an absolute need for the realization of the vision of two States without further delay. We welcome the recent agreement to form a Palestinian National Unity government. This is a must. We hope that the new Palestinian government would be established on a political platform that embraces the Quartet principles and meets the expectations of not only the Palestinians, but the international community as well.

Mr. President,

In the Middle East Peace Process, we believe that a constructive approach with a view to initiating the final status negotiations can be within our reach. However, as the two parties consider the necessary steps to build mutual confidence, they should also act responsibly and refrain from actions that might lead to new tensions and crises. In this respect, we reiterate our stance against terrorism and condemn all acts of violence and terror targeting innocent people. At the same time, we urge all parties to consider and implement constructive rather than divisive policies. In the case of the latest incident, it was the right thing for Israel to finally halt its construction work around Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Yet we understand that the excavation is unfortunately still continuing. We urge Israel to act with utmost caution and consideration, and to assume policies which reflect high regard for the religious sensitivities of the Muslims.

Mr. President,

The Quartet statement of February 2nd, announcing a re-energized approach and a commitment to engage with the parties, has been a step in the right direction. In line with this approach, we believe that regional efforts which support and complement the work of the Quartet would be of great value and importance as well. Turkey is also of the opinion that the Syrian and Lebanese tracks should not be overlooked. In this regard, any comprehensive settlement must take into consideration the relevant UN Resolutions, the principle of "land for peace", as well as the Arab Peace Plan.

Mr. President,

Unfortunately, the Israel-Lebanon war of last summer has set back the efforts in Lebanon to heal and rebuild itself. On the other hand, we think that Lebanon could make a strong leap and achieve stability, if the UNSC Resolution 1701 could be fully implemented. Certainly, in this framework, the normalization of relations between Lebanon and its neighbors would also be vitally important.

Mr. President,

We condemn most strongly, the two explosions in Beirut today, leading to loss of lives. We are of the view that the collective energy of the Lebanese should be channeled for the rebuilding of their country. We wish to see the reconciliation of differences through a political dialogue where common interests in Lebanon become the top priority for each and every Lebanese. Given today's regional and global trends, Turkey believes that the preservation of the unique and exemplary socio-political structure of Lebanon is of paramount importance. Let me underline once again that Turkey supports the sovereignty, political unity, and stability of Lebanon, and this support is amply displayed by her contributions to the enhanced UNIFIL, as well as the Maritime Task Force of the said-Mission. Furthermore, Turkey has opened its seaports and airfields for the use of friendly and ally countries to ease access to Lebanon through UNIFIL. We have also responded to the international calls for the recovery and reconstruction of Lebanon, and have pledged a total of 50 million US Dollars in the form of donations

Mr. President,

With its historical and cultural bonds with the brotherly countries in the Middle East, Turkey is determined to continue to contribute and facilitate the regional and international efforts for the realization of the long-desired peace, security, stability, and prosperity for the well-being of all peoples in the region.

I thank you, Mr. President.