Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting on the Humanitarian and Political Situation in Syria

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 30.03.2020
Mr. President,
First, I would like to thank Mark Lowcock and Geir Pedersen for their briefings.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with a global crisis unprecedented in recent history.
This pandemic and its socio-economic impacts cannot be properly addressed at the national level.
To win the war against this virus, we need solidarity, creativity and a strong political will at the global level.
And the United Nations is the right platform to address this common challenge with joint efforts.
Mr. President,
Unfortunately, this pandemic has further worsened the already disastrous conditions in Syria.
It is very likely that COVID-19 is widespread across the country, with possible devastating consequences for people trapped in the northwest.
Turkey is working in cooperation with OCHA and WHO for the delivery of test kits through the cross-border mechanism. On March 26, the first group of test kits were delivered.
We have also designated laboratories in Turkey to process samples from northwest Syria.
Access to water is another crucial need to prevent the spread of the virus.
As you are well aware, Turkish authorities and OCHA have previously restored the water supply to Haseke in November.
We have repaired the Allouk water station once again and started to provide water to Haseke on March 26.
As we have emphasized several times, this station relies on the electric supply from Resulayn and water supply from El Bab.
Therefore, the effective functioning of electric lines towards Rasulayn and water pumps to El Bab remain key for the sustainability of the Allouk station.
These electric and water supply lines should function without interruption. This is critical for hundreds of thousands of people in the area facing the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also welcome the recently launched Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 by OCHA. It is important that the Plan puts a special emphasis on the northwest Syria.
The implementation of the Plan will require close cooperation and coordination. Turkey remains ready to work with all UN agencies and other humanitarian partners.
We are also mobilizing our resources to protect four million Syrians in Turkey against COVID-19.
Syrians have access to the same health services as Turkish citizens, all across the country, free of charge.
All the camps in Turkey are provided with testing kits, medical supplies and additional hygiene products.
While daily economic life is disrupted, we continue to provide monthly allowances to Syrians through the Emergency Social Safety Net Programme.
The recent crisis has also proved, once again, the importance of the cross-border humanitarian mechanism.
Over the last weeks, the UN cross-border humanitarian assistance from Turkey has reached record levels. This month, more than one hundred trucks have passed from Turkey to Syria each day.
We must be able to address all humanitarian needs to fight against this pandemic.
So the renewal of the cross-border mechanism is more crucial than ever.
Mr. President,
As we continue our humanitarian efforts, we are also working to preserve the de-escalation status of Idlib.
In order to reinforce the ceasefire in Idlib, agreed on March 5th between President Erdoğan and President Putin in Moscow, we started conducting joint patrols with the Russian Federation on March 15th along the M4 highway.
While doing so, we reserve our right to respond to any provocation by the regime or radical groups.
A durable ceasefire in Idlib is crucial to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground in the face of the grave danger posed by the pandemic. It is also essential for the return of more than 1 million displaced Syrians right across our border.
The ceasefire is also key for the resumption of the political process.
A permanent ceasefire would provide the Constitutional Committee with the chance to continue its work.
The next round of the Constitutional Committee must be held without further delay.
We welcome the agreement reached on the agenda of the next round and look forward to the resumption of the work of Constitutional Committee through innovative means.
The regime cannot be allowed to sabotage the process as it did during the second round.
It is time for the Constitutional Committee to engage in meaningful discussions on the substance.
We all should wholeheartedly support the efforts of Special Envoy Pedersen to that end.
In order to have the desired outcome from the functioning of the Committee, the constructive stance of the opposition must be reciprocated.
I would like to remind the distinguished Council members that preserving the status-quo in Idlib or ensuring the success of the next round of the Constitutional Committee cannot simply be seen as the responsibility of Turkey alone.
The international community has to do its share. It is not realistic to expect different results while repeating the mistakes of the past.
Mr. President,
We welcome the Secretary-General's call for the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.
At the same time, we should continue to demonstrate a unified front against terrorism.
The so-called "Syrian Democratic Forces" is under the command and control of PKK/YPG and their crimes against humanity are well documented in UN reports.
The protest of the local population against this group in Deyr-i Zor last week is the latest example of the discontent of Syrian civilians against their brutality.
This terrorist organization, which supposedly declared a "ceasefire", carried out over 15 attacks in the last weeks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in northeast Syria.
As recent as yesterday (March 29th) they attacked the city centre of Azaz with heavy weapons, such as GRAD rockets.
Mr. President,
Let’s not forget that the Syrian people asked for democracy and a better future ten years ago. They asked for stability, security and proesperity.
Since then, they have suffered in the bloody hands of the Assad regime.
I will emphasize once again that Syrian people will continue to be under Turkey’s protection and care.
Turkish presence in Syria is the only reason why millions of Syrians can remain in their homeland.
Turkey will continue to support a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political solution in Syria in line with Security Council resolution 2254.
Now we must work all together to end this tragedy for once and all.
As to the previous speaker’s delusional accusations, I will not honor him with a response since I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart.
Thank you.