Statement by Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the General Debate of the Special Commitee on Peacekeeping Operations

Baki İlkin 27.02.2006
Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, let me join other speakers in congratulating you and the members of the Bureau on your election. I also wish to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report and Under Secretary Guehenno for his illuminating statement. You may rest assured of our full cooperation and support.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation has already aligned itself with the statement made by Austria on behalf of the European Union. I will therefore briefly elaborate on some issues to which we attach particular importance. But before doing so, I would like to touch upon Turkey`s contributions to peacekeeping.

Mr. Chairman,

Turkey participated in 19 UN peace operations over the last two decades and currently takes part in 9 UN peace keeping missions. Our participation extends not only to those missions located in our region but also to distant missions such as Liberia, Cote d`Ivoire, Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Timor Leste and Sudan.

While trying to enhance our military presence in UN-led missions to the extent that our other peacekeeping responsibilities would permit, we also attach particular importance to the civilian police component of the UN missions. We are currently the ninth largest police contributor with 250 police officers serving in 8 different UN missions.

Apart from the United Nations, Turkey is substantially contributing to UN mandated peace missions being conducted within the framework of the OSCE, NATO and the European Union. As of today, Turkey has more than one thousand military personnel in the Balkans and 259 in Afghanistan. We have indeed a strong peacekeeping engagement there. We led the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan twice and during our second lead in 2005, our military deployment reached 1.400. We will be assuming, on a rotational basis with France and Italy, the joint leadership of the Regional Command in Kabul in August 2006. We will also establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in this country.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me now elaborate our views on a number of specific issues:

Turkey fully supports the lead role of the United Nations in peacekeeping missions. Yet, given the magnitude and complexity of the challenges to peacekeeping, we also believe that the capabilities of regional organizations should always be taken into account, and cooperation between such organizations and the UN should be further enhanced. This is actually a commitment that we need to fulfill under article 170 of the World Summit Outcome. We therefore support the call for the establishment of effective arrangements between the UN and regional organizations, including also the provision of regional capacities in support of UN peace operations.

Mr. Chairman,

Rapid deployment remains a challenge for the UN. The establishment of "standing police capacity" and the creation of "enhanced rapidly deployable capabilities" will definitely strengthen the operational capacity of UN peacekeeping. Turkey will continue to support the work undertaken since last year for the development of these capacities.

Mr. Chairman,

The protection of peacekeepers in the field continues to be a major concern and challenge. We would like to emphasize the importance of the responsibility of host countries on this matter. Gathering and analyzing strategic information particularly at operational level is among the key elements for the safety and security of the peacekeepers in the field. We therefore welcome and support the establishment and further development of joint operation and mission analyses centers.

Mr.Chairman,

In order to execute complex mandates in the field, the Secretariat should be well resourced and structured. We believe that it is necessary to further strengthen the military and the civilian police divisions within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Having said this, let me also commend the Secretariat for the excellent briefings and selection assistance visits to member states, including Turkey.

Mr. Chairman,

Conflict resolution calls for a comprehensive approach in which parties emerging from conflict require assistance not only in peacekeeping but also in building and consolidating peace. The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission has therefore been an important step in this regard. Turkey welcomes this new body which will fill an institutional gap in post-conflict management in the UN system. Yet, we believe that this new body, together with the Peacebuilding Support Office should closely interact and cooperate with the DPKO. Their efforts should be mutually reinforcing. We believe this matter also merits the attention of the Special Committee.

Mr. Chariman,

Training of peacekeepers is an indispensable component of conducting a successful peace operation. Bearing this reality in mind, Turkey, established a Partnership for Peace Training Centre in Ankara in 1998. Since its establishment, this Center has organized 215 courses and 6 seminars and provided training to almost six thousand peacekeepers from 58 different countries. This center cooperates with the Training and Evaluation Service of the UN Secretariat and continues to align its programs with the UN standard training modules. Once again, we would like to express our commitment to cooperate with the UN Secretariat for the training of UN peacekeepers in this Center.

Mr. Chairman,

I would also like to take this opportunity to refer to the ``Challenges Project`` and its final report which was submitted to the Secretary-General by Sweden last January. Being one of the partners of this cross-regional project, Turkey believes that the Special Committee and the Secretariat should make best use of this report in its future work.

Mr. Chairman,

I cannot conclude my statement without paying tribute to all the peacekeepers risking their lives in the operations throughout the world and especially to the courageous peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving the cause of peace.

Thank you