Statement by His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Gül, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, to the General Debate of the 60th Session of the General Assembly

Abdullah Gül 21.09.2005
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to convey the condolences of my people to the friendly American people, for the tragic loss of life and large-scale destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

This is also a stark reminder of the many other natural and manmade disasters, such as famine in Africa, tsunamis, earthquakes, ecological catastrophes and wide scale violence and terrorism. They all require sustained inte rnational attention and cooperation.

Having suffered from similar disasters, Turkey deeply feels for others and stands in solidarity.

Mr. President,

Upholding the principles of justice, dignity, equality and social progress for the men and women of our world should be the basis of the international order. We must spread justice together with freedom. We cannot rest before we provide prosperity and dignity for every human being. These principles should guide us in our future effo rts.

We have left a very busy period behind, culminating with an impo rtant Summit The Summit Outcome Document has encouraged us all to focus on the global problems we face and the way to achieve positive change.

Now is the time to act. We must start implementing what we have agreed on, issues from peacebuilding to human rights. While doing this, we must not lose sight of our main target. We must reach the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, by the year 2015.

With these in mind, we welcome the Secretary-General's proposal to start with an accountability pact. We also welcome your idea, Mr. President, to submit an outline of work for the year ahead, related to the Summit follow-up.

Mr. President,

A large number of international problems that are high on the United Nations' agenda are occurring in our part of the world. These are real issues, which closely affect
the daily lives of our people. As a count ry with a rich heritage and great international experience, we are working to build a culture of compromise and reconciliation.

Our historical and cultural links to nations living in neighbouring regions from Eurasia to the Islamic World and our role as a member of European, Trans-Atlantic and
Mediterranean institutions will have a positive effect on Turkey's contribution to international relations in the 21st century.

It is with this background and confiden ce that I take the opportunity to submit to
your attention Turkey's candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council, for the term 2009-2010.

Mr. President,

Recent developments in the Middle East Peace Process and in Lebanon have raised our hopes.

Ongoing reform efforts hold great promise for the improvement of the political, social and economic standards of the region. We will continue to encourage and assist
these local efforts.

On the Arab-Israeli conflict the Israeli withdrawal from the G aza Strip is an encouraging development. We would like to witness the same positive trend in the West Bank. Israeli settlement activities in occupied territories must come to an end. The sanctity of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem must be respected. The Road Map should be revived and fully implemented.

On the other hand, we must not let terror and violence derail the process this time.

The reform of the Palestinian National Authority has to move forward, particularly in the security domain.

The efforts to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians have to be intensified. We suppo rt the work of Mr. James Wofensohn, Quartet Special Envoy for
Disengagement and cooperate with him. We believe these effo rts will help restore a sense of hope among the Palestinians, and security for the Israelis.

In order to integrate the Palestinians with the world, the sea and air po rts must be built and activated; border crossings and trade corridors must function smoothly; freedom of movement must be achieved. Such measures will go a long way to revitalize the Palestinian economy. This will encourage the Palestinians to become real partners in peace with the Israelis.

Turkey is already actively working with the pa rties, for the realization of this vision.

We are determined to continue to contribute in any way we can.

Mr. President,

lraq's destiny and the way the events are unfolding in this count ry are of crucial importance for peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond.

Building a democratic and prosperous Iraq, at peace with itself and its neighbours could be possible only if the Iraqi people act as one, in full solidarity and with a clear vision.

Ethnical and religious differences in Iraq should not be divisive. Rather they should be a source of cultural plurality. Otherwise the new Iraq will be a source of instability and conflict, instead of hope and inspiration for the entire region.

Turkey, in cooperation with the United Nations, has been in the forefront of efforts for political and economic rehabilitation in Iraq. The Neighbours of Iraq Forum, again pioneered by Turkey, has been an e fficient platform to suppo rt the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.

The security situation is a source of concern for all. Iraq has unfortunately become a training ground for terrorists. As a neighbouring count ry, we suffer from this. We are concerned that terrorism emanating from Iraq might have a ripple effect upon other countries, including Turkey. It is our joint duty to prevent such an outcome.

Mr. President,

Our vision of establishing a zone of regional peace, stability and economic cooperation in the South Caucasus is yet to be realized.

The problems of Nagorn o-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia continue to impede peace and cooperation. These problems defy all UN principles. They demand our urgent attention.

In particular, a peaceful settlement must be found to the Nagorn o-Karabakh issue, within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Steps towards ending the occupation of Aze riterritory will create a better climate in the region, including in the Turkish-Armenian relations. We are giving full suppo rt to the efforts of the Minsk Group. We are closely following the high-level contacts between Turkey's two neighbours and encouraging the parties to make progress.

Mr. President,

In Afghanistan many challenges still lie ahead. The continued support of the international community is still needed. Among others, education, health, gender equality and economic development need increased attention. Alternative crops must be encouraged in order to replace widespread poppy cultivation.

As a country, which has led the international security assistance force (ISAF) in Afghanistan twice, for a period of 14 months in the last three years, I wish to reiterate our continued commitment.

We welcome the holding of the elections as an encouraging development for democracy in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

We are determined to continue our suppo rt for the strengthening of peace, stability
and prosperity in Southeast Europe. The Balkan region has made considerable progress
towards the establishment of a peaceful environment, leading to economic development.

The political and economic consolidation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and final status talks in Kosovo need to be monitored carefully. Turkey will continue to be a reliable partner in this process.

Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, our vision is to create a basin of cooperation, stability and prosperity among Turkey, Greece and the two peoples of Cyprus.

However, it is regre ttable that, at a time when we are debating the best way to reform the UN and enhance its role, we are at the same time witnessing an attempt to move the Cyprus problem away from this Organization. We regard these effo rts to undermine the role of the UN as a most disturbing paradox.

The Annan Plan represented a unique basis for the solution of this problem.

Although it did not fully meet their expectations, the Turkish Cypriots, for the sake of compromise, approved the Plan with an overwhelming majority.

On the other hand, under the effective guidance of the Greek Cypriot leadership, the rejection of the Annan Plan at a referendum held last year was a blow to the international community. Thus, the chance to put an end to the division of the Island, once and for all, was missed.

The Report of the Secretary-General, issued after the referendum gave an overview of the long negotiating process and recommended the lifting of all restrictions upon the

Turkish Cypriots. Unfortunately, against established practice, the comprehensive Repo rt of the Secretary-General on Cyprus is being disregarded. As a result, the unfair restrictions imposed upon the Turkish Cypriots could not be lifted. One might find it difficult to believe that the Turkish Cypriots still continue to live under restrictions, cut off from the outside world.

In the following period the Secretary-General's soundings and effo rts to re-activate the talks, based on his plan, have yielded no tangible results because of the continued intransigence of the Greek Cypriot administration.

As if this was not enough, the Greek Cypriot administration is now trying to side-line the United Nations and carry the issue to other fora. I urge all international actors to discourage these misguided effo rts.

Turkey continues to be ready to contribute to the United Nations' endeavors to find a just, equitable and lasting solution to the Cyprus ,problem on the basis of the Annan Plan.

On this occasion, I would like to reiterate the proposal that I made, on 30 May 2005 for the lifting of all restrictions related to the Island. In this proposal, I basically suggested the need to enable the free movement of people, goods and se rv ices and the lifting of all restrictions applied to sea and airports between the two sides in Cyprus as well as to Turkey and Greece. It is evident that this proposal conforms with the legitimate expectations of the international community.

Mr. President,

We attach great impo rtance to furthering our relations and cooperation with the African continent. According to an action plan, Turkey is vigorously developing its relations with Africa as a whole. We recently opened an office in Addis Ababa to serve as a coordination center for Turkish humanitarian and developmental assistance to the continent.

The Turkish Government has also declared 2005 as the "Year of Africa" in Turkey.

We will continue with our contributions to international institutions, working to alleviate the suffering and eliminate disease and hunger in the continent.

Mr. President,

I would like now to touch upon some other issues of utmost importance, which do not recognize any geographical boundaries.

The chain of attacks in various parts of the world prove that no country is immune
from terrorism. We condemn these atrocities in the strongest terms.

No distinction should be made between terrorist organizations. There is no room for double standards in this fight. We must reject it as a method, regardless of where, why and how it is employed. Combating terrorism should be of a global and collective nature, and the UN should continue to play a prominent role.

We welcome Security Council Resolutions 1624 and 1625, which called for strengthened steps against incitement of terrorist acts and to prevent armed conflict, particularly in Africa.

We must also resist any temptation to associate any specific culture, religion or faith with terrorism.

Mr. President,

We should keep in mind that the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy requires full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a transparent manner.

The establishment of Weapons of Mass Destruction-free zones, particularly in the Middle East will be an important contribution to international peace and security.

Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,

Strengthening muttilateralism and the central role of the UN in the international system is a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy. It is the strongest hope and guarantee for a safer and better world.

Thank you.