Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 19.02.2020
Mr. President,

At the outset, let me extend our condolences to the families of two OXFAM humanitarian workers for the loss of their lives.
I would also like to thank Special Envoy Pedersen and USG Lowcock for their briefings.

Two weeks ago, this Council discussed the growing risk of further escalation and the gravity of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria.

Since then, the crisis only worsened. As the Secretary-General emphasized yesterday, the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation and tragic suffering of civilians are at alarming levels.

Under the pretext of combating terrorism, a relentless campaign of airstrikes and ground attacks continue.

The Syrian regime continues to violate international humanitarian law and indiscriminately targets civilians and civilian infrastructure, emptying out entire cities and villages.

Almost 1 million people are displaced over the last two months.

Women and children represent 80 percent of the newly displaced people.

This is the biggest mass displacement during the nine-year war in Syria.

Yesterday, UNICEF reported that the last two operational hospitals in the western part of Aleppo were hit. One of them was a maternity and the other was a children’s hospital. In the past twenty-four hours, four more hospitals were attacked. This is unacceptable.

The mass-murderer in Damascus has now killed more than 2.000 civilians in Idlib since December 2019. These actions constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

People in Idlib are caught between violence, winter conditions and scarcity of food.

The lack of adequate shelter has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people living in open air under freezing temperatures and sleeping on the streets with no cover.

Existing camps and settlements are insufficient.

A critical need is shelter.

There is an urgent need to establish new camps to address new waves of displacement.

We are cooperating with OCHA to increase the capacity of the cross-border mechanism.

We are also working with Germany to alleviate the shelter needs in Idlib and support the most vulnerable.

Mr. President,

This is a major humanitarian tragedy with also serious repercussions beyond Syria.

Syrians feel abandoned by the world.

They expect the international community to help them.

They expect the Security Council to raise its voice.

The message that must come out of this meeting is clear: The Syrian regime must stop killing its own people.

This is a test for the Security Council.

This is a test of our humanity. We cannot fail.

Mr. President,

The regime also resumed its deliberate attacks on Turkish forces.

Five more Turkish soldiers were deliberately targeted last week and lost their lives.

Turkish Armed Forces immediately retaliated in self-defense.

We will continue to respond by all necessary means.

As President Erdoğan has announced, Turkey will hit all targets that pose an immediate threat.

We will not withdraw our forces and we will not abandon our observation posts.

It is the regime who should withdraw from its current positions until the end of this month.

I would like to underline once again that Turkish forces are in Idlib to stabilize the situation and to preserve the de-escalation area status of this province.

Our military presence and reinforcements are fully in line with the Sochi Memorandum of September 2018.

The only option out of the biggest humanitarian horror story of the twenty-first century is a lasting ceasefire.

We need:

- immediate cessation of hostilities,

- full implementation of Sochi Memorandum on Idlib,

- return to the status quo ante.

These are the main messages we have been conveying to Russia at all levels, including most recently in a series of inter-agency meetings held in Ankara and Moscow.

In our talks, Turkey reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring regime’s withdrawal to the Sochi Memorandum line.

We underlined our preparedness to enforce this through military means if necessary.

We emphasized the need to de-escalate violence, prevent violations and avoid further worsening of the grave humanitarian situation.

We will continue our contacts with Russia, as guarantor of the regime, to make sure that regime acts in compliance with existing frameworks on Idlib.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting is meant to be about the political situation in Syria. The fate of Idlib will also determine the prospects of a real political solution.

It has been over four years since this Council unanimously adopted the Resolution 2254.

This resolution sets out a clear roadmap for political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Constitutional Committee was the most concrete step taken so far towards implementation of this roadmap.

It took us over two years to establish this Committee because the regime has not been interested in a political solution.

Now the regime is reverting to its usual tactics for stalling the Committee’s work.

The tyrant in Damascus is aspiring for a Syria without people; a Syria without Syrians.

He wants to hold on to power with total disregard of human life.

We will not let this happen.

Today, Turkey provides, care and protection to more than 9 million Syrians both in Turkey and Syria.

Let me underline that this is more than the population of the so-called regime-controlled areas.

And here we are again, listening to the previous speaker’s delusions.

I repeat here again that I will not honor him with a response since I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart.

His regime has blood of innocent people on its hands and lost its legitimacy long ago.

His mere presence in the Council is an assault to the millions of Syrians who suffered countless crimes at the hands of this regime.

Mr. President,

This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate government that will come to power through elections to be held in accordance with 2254, and that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent.

Until then, Turkey will continue to stand by the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and safeguard the protection of civilians in Idlib and beyond.

Every passing day, we put vulnerable Syrian people into the mercy of this murderous regime.

Now is the time to act.

The international community has the responsibility to protect.

Thank you.