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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 11.09.2020
Mr. President,
I would like to thank you for organizing this meeting and Madame High Representative for her briefing.

We welcome the open format of this meeting, which contributes to the efforts to keep this topic high on the agenda of the international community.

The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime has been part of its brutal war against its own people, with devastating humanitarian consequences.

21st of August marked the seventh anniversary of the horrific Ghouta sarin attack by the Assad regime.

In this single incident, the resident pawn in Damascus and his regime killed hundreds of civilians in cold blood.

This was yet another appalling crime committed by the regime against humanity, this time with prohibited weapons. Perpetrators of this attack are yet to be held accountable.

Emboldened by a growing sense of impunity, the regime has continued to resort to chemical weapons repeatedly in the following years.

The regime’s crimes are well-documented by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

The Mechanism confirmed that the Syrian regime was responsible for using toxic substances in Talmenes (21 April 2014), Sarmin (16 March 2015) and Qmenas (16 March 2015); and it once again used sarin in Khan Shaykhun (4 April 2017).

The Assad regime was shielded from being held immediately accountable for its continued use of chemical weapons with the dismantling of JIM at the end of 2017. And the use of chemical weapons by the regime continued unabated.

The Fact Finding Mission (FFM) of OPCW reported the additional use of toxic chemicals in Ltamenah in March 2017 and in Douma in April 2018.

Mr. President,
The regime’s history of repeatedly using chemical weapons against its own people cannot be disputed.

Turkey has strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons by the regime from the very beginning. We remain determined to hold it accountable for indiscriminately killing innocent children, women and men with these heinous weapons.

We welcomed the establishment of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) last year and supported its efforts towards identifying the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The first report of the IIT issued last April concluded that Syrian regime air force is the perpetrator of the three chemical weapons attacks that took place in Ltamenah on 24, 25 and 30 March 2017.

We consider this report as an important step towards ensuring that those responsible for the chemical weapons attacks in Syria are held accountable for their crimes.

At the same time, we are looking forward to the conclusion of current investigations carried out by both the FFM and the IIT on other cases.

Now that we have ample evidence and documentation about the perpetrators of those attacks, it is high time that justice is served.

To that end, the cooperation between the OPCW Secretariat and the International, Impartial ad Independent Mechanism (IIIM) is significant and it must continue.

We also commend the ongoing work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, which continues to contribute substantively to investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Turkey reiterates its strong support for the important work of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) and the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT). We underscore our full trust in the professionalism and impartiality of the FFM and the objectivity of its reports.

It would serve no party’s interest to question the credibility of the FFM.

Mr. President,

While the Assad regime’s record for the use of chemical weapons is growing, the gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies stemming from the initial declaration of the regime continue.

The pandemic should not be used as an excuse for the delay in addressing this pressing problem. We expect the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013).

The regime keeps insulting our intelligence by repeating the illusion that it has no chemical weapon stockpiles.

This cannot continue. The regime must be forced to have a result-oriented cooperation with the OPCW.

The decision adopted during the 94th Executive Council of the OPCW is a crucial step forward in addressing the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

At the same time, the decision sets clear and verifiable parameters for action that the regime needs to take. Turkey gladly co-sponsored this decision.

Mr. President,

Assad regime and its backers have been indiscriminately killing civilians, including children, for the last 9 years. They must and will be held accountable for these crimes.

If we fail to act urgently and decisively, there is no guarantee that the regime will not use chemical weapons again.

We particularly recall the responsibility of the parties who have influence on the Syrian regime in this regard.

Mr. President,

The Assad regime’s culpability in horrific chemical attacks is undeniable. Turkey will continue to support all the steps taken by the international community, first and foremost the UN and OPWC, for ensuring full accountability in Syria.
We echo the call of the Secretary General. The UN Security Council must act firmly and in unity.

This is the least we can do to do justice to the innocent victims of chemical attacks in Syria.

As to the delusional remarks of the regime representative, I would like to emphasize that these are nothing but futile efforts to divert the international community’s attention from the Syrian regime’s well-documented record of use of chemical weapons. He is not a legitimate representative of Syrian people and is not worthy of my reply.

Thank you.