Explanation of Vote by Turkey on “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” (A/C.3/74/L.30/Rev.1)

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 18.12.2019
Mr. President,

I took the floor to provide an explanation of our vote after the vote on the resolution entitled “Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

The crisis in Syria began when the democratic aspirations and legitimate demands of Syrians were crashed by force.

Innocent civilians were killed with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. They were subjected to arbitrary detentions, torture, starvation and sieges.

In the face of these grave violations, the General Assembly has been adopting this resolution through the Third Committee to advocate the protection of human rights in Syria and fight against impunity.

Turkey supported these efforts from the very first resolution adopted in 2011. Ever since, we have co-sponsored all following resolutions, and actively contributed to their drafting.

Mr. President,

Needless to say that the focus of this resolution is supposed to be the widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law suffered by the Syrian people at the hands of Bashar Assad. However, we regret that this year’s drafting exercise was handled inadequately by the penholder and in a manner far from impartiality, as also reflected by the statement made by this delegation during Third Committee deliberations. This casts serious doubts on the competence of this delegation to continue holding the pen on this issue.

This is particularly the case for the paragraph on developments in the northeast of Syria that deliberately distorts the facts on the ground.

It is clear that such language is motivated by political calculations of certain member states whose interests are not served with the results of Turkey’s limited cross-border counter-terrorism operation. This language does not intend to tell us about the suffering of Syrian people. But it tells us why certain member states are almost always remembered with their frequent use of double standards and hypocrisy.

Different from these countries, we cannot condone lies or selective reflection of events.

Therefore, for the first time in nine years, Turkey is regrettably forced to vote against this resolution. Having said that, I would like to underline that, except for one specific paragraph, we subscribe to the core message of this resolution.

Regarding the specific paragraph I referred to, let me set the record straight:

- The violence in northeast Syria has been inflicted by YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist organization PKK. And we are not surprised to see that those who are most concerned with the so-called “recent escalation of violence in northeast Syria” are those who also supported this terrorist organization, both politically and materially.

- Yet, PKK/YPG attempted to establish its own totalitarian state in northeast Syria in contravention of the territorial integrity and unity of Syria. It is widely documented that they oppressed the local populations who opposed their rule, Arabs and Kurds in particular, and forcibly displaced them from the areas under their control. This is the real demographic change that has already occurred in this region that the current resolution conveniently disregards.

-This group went as far as releasing DEASH terrorists so that they conduct terror acts in Turkey or northwest Syria. Still, no mentioning of this outrageous action in the resolution. Turkey, on the other hand, as the only country that engaged in chest-to-chest combat against DEASH, re-captured hundreds of DEASH combatants that were released from prisons by YPG. To claim that Turkey’s operation eroded the fight against DEASH is disingenuous to say the least, particularly given the fact that the leader of this terrorist group was recently eliminated.

- The text is also misleading in its interpretation of the humanitarian situation. As one of the leading donors in the humanitarian field, every month Turkey ensures the safe passage of lifeline convoys to millions of Syrians through the UN cross-border mechanism. We provide protection to around 9 million Syrians both in Turkey and in Syria. Our humanitarian support to northeast Syria continues unabated to this day.

- More than 370.000 Syrians voluntarily returned to their homes in areas we liberated from terrorism in the northwest. We work towards the same objective in the northeast and continue to alleviate the suffering of people in close cooperation with the UN and humanitarian organizations. In the meantime, let’s not forget that some European countries giving lectures on these issues still continue to suspend humanitarian aid to Syrians under false pretexts.

- And finally, on the political track, as the guarantor of the opposition, Turkey, played a pivotal role in the launch of the Constitutional Committee, which met in Geneva after the launch of Operation Peace Spring. Therefore, political process, far from being undermined as claimed in the text, is advancing thanks to our ceaseless efforts to that end.

- Those, on the other hand, who supported PKK/YPG and those who attempt to lecture us in our fight against terror carry primary responsibility in “seriously undermining stability and security of the whole region.”

Mr. President,

Sensitive issues require careful, transparent and fair consideration, and above all, impartiality and objectivity.

Unfortunately, the process of deliberations on this draft resolution was driven by biased and revanchist agendas and obsessions of some countries.

This is the reason why our calls during deliberations to include in the resolution vital issues such as repatriation of DEASH fighters, ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering pursued by PKK/YPG and the EU’s pledges regarding Syrian refugees fell on deaf ears.

And this is not surprising, as shame is in retreat in some parts of the world.

But Turkey will never accept outrageous allegations and we will never be intimidated by hypocrisy.

We will continue our efforts to address the suffering of the Syrian people, protect their human rights and work towards transformation of Syria into a democratic, secular and stable country.

Thank you.