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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 27.02.2020
Mr. President,
I would like to thank UNICEF Executive Director Fore and ASG Mueller for their valuable briefings.

I would also like to pay tribute to all humanitarian workers who continue to risk their lives to help Syrian people against all odds.

Each and every day, we are witnessing a more tragic new phase of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Syria.

The reports of the UN agencies are telling the story of a 21st century-style barbarism. Such brutality and disregard for human life is beyond comprehension.
Assad regime and its supporters have a strategy that leaves the civilians with two options.

They can stay in Idlib area and desperately hope that they can survive the indiscriminate attacks by the regime and its supporters.

Or, they can leave their homes to run for their lives, under very harsh winter conditions.

This strategy is not new.

This is the modus operandi of the regime from the very beginning. This is how they have been killing innocent people in order to hold on to power.

So we are familiar with this plan of action.

Now, the question is: what is our strategy?

Is the international community going to stand idle as millions of people are displaced and children continue to freeze to death?

Are we going to continue to watch as schools and hospitals are being bombed?

The situation in Idlib is not just a humanitarian tragedy. We are faced with serious crimes against humanity.

And we have the collective responsibility to stop this massacre.

Mr. President,
We have already made it clear. Turkey is not going to stand idle. We are not going to watch.
We already host 4 million Syrian refugees in our country and provide care and protection to 5 million people within Syria. Around 1.7 million of Syrians in Turkey are children. More than half a million Syrian babies were born in Turkey in the last nine years.

Altogether 9 million are under Turkey’s protection. Our presence on the ground gives hope to millions.
We will continue to help our Syrian sisters and brothers, today and tomorrow. We will not let them down.

As for the unfolding crisis, the road map is clear:
We need immediate cessation of hostilities.
We need full implementation of the Sochi Memorandum and we need to return to the status quo ante.

These are the main messages we have been conveying to Russia, the guarantor of the regime, at all levels.

Our talks with Russia to make sure that regime acts in compliance with existing frameworks on Idlib are continuing.
Mr. President,
Regime’s deliberate attacks on our forces has been a turning point. We are now determined more than ever to preserve Idlib’s de-escalation status.

As President Erdoğan has stated, once again today, very clearly, we will not withdraw our forces and we will not abandon our observation posts. We will not allow the regime to act contrary to the agreements on Idlib.

Acting in self defense, we have already reinforced our forces on the ground.

We will not hesitate to continue to take all necessary measures.

Mr. President,
Turkey ensures the safe passage of lifeline convoys to millions of Syrians through the UN cross-border mechanism.

Currently, people in the northwest are fully relying on the cross-border aid.

We are working with OCHA to increase the capacity of the two existing crossing points.

Today, shelter continues to be the most pressing need on the ground. We urgently need temporary housing, makeshift schools and hospitals for more than one million newly uprooted people, half of whom are children. We should also immediately address food and medicine needs.
We welcome Secretary General’s appeal to donors for an additional 500 million US Dollars for the needs of the newly displaced people over the next six months.

But funding continues to fall short. We urge the international community to step up its contributions.

The Secretary General, in his recent report, recommended the Tel Abyad border crossing as the most feasible alternative for cross-border operations in the northeast. We will take all necessary measures in order to operationalize that alternative in full cooperation with the UN.

We welcome that and will be ready to work with the members of the Security Council on the upcoming cross-border resolution.

Cutting the cross-border aid by not renewing this mechanism cannot be an option.

Humanitarian assistance should not be up for petty negotiations. It is our joint responsibility to bring this assistance to millions of people in need in Syria. If we fail, history will not forgive us.

Here, I would like to condemn the representative of the regime for his attempt to intimidate the UN humanitarian officials.

Mr. President,

Nine years ago, Syrian people raised their voice for democracy and a better future.

But their legitimate demands were crashed by force. Instead, they faced destruction and torture.

The expectations of Syrian people are still legitimate.

The regime and its allies continue to seek a military solution.

What we understand from their actions is that they want to exterminate the political process by killing each and every member of the opposition.

Against this scenario, Idlib is the only hope.

If the Idlib de-escalation area cannot hold, prospects for peace will vanish.

This Council knows better than Assad’s murderous regime: A political solution in Syria is the only option.

A Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254 is still possible.

Syria can still be a democratic, secular and stable country with secure borders and a strong economy. Syrian people deserve nothing less.
But they need our help.

They need this Council to play its role to bring peace and security to Syria.

Thank you.