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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 18.05.2020
Mr. President,

Thank you for organizing this meeting. I would also like to thank Special Envoy Pedersen for his briefing.

Mr. Special Envoy, you have the full support of Turkey in your efforts to advance the political process.

We all agree, I believe, that a political settlement, in line with Resolution 2254, remains the only way forward in Syria.

A serious political process requires, above all, seriousness from the Assad regime and its backers, in the efforts towards the full implementation of the Resolution 2254.

Mr. President,

Today, despite sporadic violations, the ceasefire holds in Idlib.

Turkey continues its efforts to stabilize the situation on the ground. Joint patrols are carried out on M4 with Russia since 15 March. Over 140 thousand IDPs have returned to their homes.

Our aim is to ensure a lasting ceasefire in Idlib. This is essential to improve the humanitarian situation, to facilitate the return of displaced people and to advance the political process.

However, we witness a continuous regime military build-up in Idlib.

Taking into account the track record of the regime, this development risks the lives of millions of Syrians, mostly women and children.

We cannot allow the regime to interpret the ceasefire as an opportunity to regroup for its next offensive.

Turkey is committed to protecting the civilians in Idlib and reserves its right of self-defense to respond to any attack.

Mr. President,

We have emphasized the importance of reaching a ceasefire for reviving the political track. And the ceasefire in Idlib certainly helped that.

We are pleased that there is now an agreement on the agenda of the third round.

The next round of Constitutional Committee meetings should be held without delay, once it is possible to convene in person.

But we have to make sure that the Committee meetings are conducted seriously. These meetings must deliver concrete outcomes.

The Security Council has the responsibility to support the Committee’s work and not to allow the regime to water it down again.

Mr. President,

It is also ironic and shameless that the Assad regime that deliberately targeted and tortured doctors and nurses for a decade, obliterated the medical infrastructure of its country by systematically attacking hospitals, calls now for lifting of sanctions under the pretext of fighting COVID19 pandemic.

Mr. President,

Last month, almost all members of this Council expressed their sympathies for the victims of the terrorist attack that took place in Afrin, on April 28.

Let me remind that this barbaric attack was perpetrated by PKK/YPG. And it was followed by another one, in El-Bab on May 9. In these two attacks, PKK/YPG killed more than 50 civilians, including babies.

Since mid-March, PKK/YPG has carried out more than 30 terrorist attacks in the entire northern part of Syria. These indiscriminate attacks include suicide bombings as well.

And all these attacks took place at a time when the so-called “SDF” pretended to support the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire. It is not a secret that these terrorist groups have been using such occasions to gain legitimacy.

We all have the duty not to fall into this trap and demonstrate a united front against terrorism by condemning PKK/YPG’s terrorist attacks, without hesitation.

The attempts to include the PKK/YPG in the political process, through so-called “reconciliation talks” are both unjustified and unacceptable.

A terrorist entity with a separatist agenda for Syria, in contradiction with all relevant Security Council resolutions, has no place within this process.

Mr. President,

Let me briefly touch upon the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

Turkey welcomes the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team’s (IIT) report.

The Team’s report, in addition to the JIM reports, provides indisputable evidence that the Syrian regime is in non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

These are war crimes and crimes against humanity. And those responsible for these crimes must be held accountable and brought to justice.

Turkey will continue to support all efforts, including the steps to be taken by OPCW and IIIM, towards ensuring full accountability in Syria. This remains crucial for a credible political process.

Mr. President,

By way of massacring thousands of innocent civilians, the Syrian regime has control over some parts of Syria.

Yet it has no legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrians.

There are millions, who cannot go back to their homeland for the simple reason that their most fundamental right, right to life, is under threat.

These millions of people are not represented in Damascus, nor here in New York.

But their voices need to be heard. Their grievances need to be addressed. That can only be achieved through an election described by the Permanent Representative of France, in accordance with Resolution 2254.

In the tenth year of the civil war in Syria we need to do more, not less.

And it is our collective duty to make sure that these Council meetings have a meaningful outcome beyond words.

Mr. President,

As usual, I will not honor the delusional state of mind of the previous speaker with a response. He does not represent the Syrian people.

I will provide an answer, on behalf of my country and nearly nine million Syrians that we protect, once there is a legitimate representative behind the name plate of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Thank you.