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

Baki İlkin 21.07.2006
Mr. President,

While Turkey has aligned itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Finland on behalf of the European Union, I still would like to expound on a number of issues which we deem fundamental at this critical and highly sensitive conjuncture in the region.

Mr. President,

The briefing which the Secretary-General gave to the Security Council yesterday, clearly portrays the dire and dangerous situation prevailing in the Middle East as well as it indicates the ways and means to put an end to the bloodshed and to come out of the present turmoil and impasse. Innocent Lebanese, Palestinian and Israeli civilians are losing their lives. Lebanon is facing destruction and the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is being decimated. What is more, these tragic events, if unchecked, might have negative implications in the region which is already burdened with intractable problems. Actually, given the volatile situation on the ground, the international community should have been more active to stop the escalation of tension to its present proportions.

Mr. President,

We cannot in anyway condone hostage-taking and we cannot deny the right of self-defense. Israeli military personnel have to be released immediately. The hostage-takers should have realized by now that their action has been totally counter-productive, leading to great loss and suffering among their own peoples.

On the other hand, Israel can and should not resort to disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force and violence. We cannot allow the destruction of Lebanon, and that of the hopes of the Palestinians for a viable State. What is currently taking place in the region goes far beyond self-defense and in the long-run will not serve the interests of Israel. Furthermore, by fomenting negative sentiments, it damages prospects for dialogue and reconciliation which is at the heart of the two-state solution. We call on all parties to act with utmost restraint.

Mr. President,

In order to stop civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure, the first thing that needs to be done is to achieve a ceasefire. At the same time, the three abducted soldiers should be immediately handed over to Israel. The elected Palestinian officials should be freed. Later on, we hope to reach a stage when the women and children prisoners could also be released. The relevant parties should immediately start working on the implementation of the elements which could form the political basis of a lasting ceasefire, as stressed by the Secretary-General. The countries in the region, as well as the international community, have a moral duty to create a positive atmosphere towards this aim and to prevent the region from falling victim to violence, misery and desperation. We must ensure that common sense and moderation succeed in the Middle East.

On the other hand, we should all agree that the root-cause of what we are witnessing is the continuation of the Middle East problem. Until and unless a just, equitable and lasting solution is found to this problem, there can be no permanent peace and security in the region. And unilateral moves, arrangements and the use of force are no substitutes for a comprehensive settlement.

Mr. President,

For decades, Turkey has been providing substantial assistance to the Palestinians. In the light of recent events, this assistance will continue unabated. Turkey is also prepared to contribute to the efforts to bring relief to the suffering of the Lebanese people. Both peoples need the full solidarity and support of the international community.

Mr. President,

What is happening in the region, if not checked and stopped immediately, would go down in history as a most regrettable episode for the entire humanity.

Thank you.