Statement by Turkey at the Commemoration on the Srebrenica Genocide

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 10.07.2020
I would like to wholeheartedly thank the organizers of this meeting and express our appreciation to the distinguished briefers.

Today we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, the most horrific atrocity that took place in Europe since the Holocaust. We honour with respect the memory of more than 8.000 victims of Srebrenica, and offer our condolences to their families and loved ones.

Feeling this grief as our own, we have always taken part in and supported this commemoration. Turkey is represented at the highest level in the ceremonies held in Bosnia and Herzegovina every year. Additionally, last year, we supported the holding of the first ever commemoration of this genocide at the Council of Europe.

As already mentioned during this meeting, remembering and raising awareness is key to non-recurrence. At the same time, our commitment to support the efforts at all levels to ensure accountability for the crimes committed during this painful chapter of the 90s remains firm.

In this vein, Turkey fully supports the work of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), including by providing assistance to the information center established in Sarajevo in 2018. We are also proud to have a highly qualified national serving as a judge in this legal body. The important work of the Residual Mechanism is a reminder that that there will be no impunity for those who commit such horrific crimes.

It is also essential for the international community to redouble its efforts to prevent the occurrence of such crimes. To that end, constructive dialogue and prevention efforts are key. Turkey pioneers mediation efforts not only in the UN, but also in other organizations such as the OSCE and the OIC, as well as through bilateral and trilateral initiatives. As a founder and Co-Chair of the Alliance of Civilizations, we would also like to point out the pertinent work undertaken by this initiative as well.

We also would like to emphasize that when efforts for prevention do not bear fruit, the United Nations, with its organs and mechanisms, including the Security Council, must remain ready to assume its responsibilities as enshrined in the Charter. The genocide in Srebrenica is a haunting reminder of this necessity. It is clear that civilians are the ones that pay the highest price when member states fail to uphold their responsibility to protect.

Decades after the international community’s call for “never again” and the adoption of the landmark Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica revealed the stark gap between our commitments and actions.

Today, as the most serious international crimes continue to be committed in various parts of the world and as intolerance, racism, xenophobia, hate speech, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise, living up to our commitments and responsibilities, and closing this gap is more crucial than ever. The tragic events of the past remind us of the need to work in unity for a better future, in a stable, prosperous, and inclusive manner.

Turkey commends Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries for their ongoing efforts to put these principles into practice. We remain committed to support them in their pursuit of overcoming the legacy of past conflict, by seeking justice, reconciliation as well as peace, prosperity and stability in the region.