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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 18.09.2020
Mr. President,

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

The regime’s war on its own people has been continuing for almost a decade. Its devastating impact on the civilians has reached immense proportions.

COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the dire humanitarian situation. With its severely weakened health infrastructure, Syria is particularly vulnerable to this outbreak.

Therefore, the need for accelerating the political process and implementing all provisions of the Resolution 2254 is more pressing than ever.

Turkey continues to actively support all efforts to:
• Preserve calm on the ground,
• End the conflict through a political solution in line with the Resolution 2254, and
• Enable the return of Syrian refugees and IDPs to their homes in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner.

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

Turkey, as an Astana guarantor, actively supported the efforts for the establishment of the Constitutional Committee.

We also wholeheartedly support the work of the Committee and deeply appreciate the facilitation role of the Special Envoy.

We welcome the convening of the third round of the Committee which was held after a nine month hiatus.

It is time for the Committee to meet regularly and set its agenda for consecutive meetings.

Next meetings should focus on the substance such as the essence of the Constitution, fundamental principles, rights and freedoms and the rule of law. Before making progress on all these issues, it is absurd to talk about meaningful elections in Syria.

Syrian parties should respect the agreed Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure of the Committee.

This is essential for the proper and continuous functioning of this body.

In this regard, we expect the efforts of the opposition and the Special Envoy to be reciprocated.

For its part, Turkey has been encouraging the opposition to maintain its constructive and result-oriented approach. Our efforts to advance the political process and our steady support to the Special Envoy will continue unabated.

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,

Turkey remains fully committed to stabilizing the situation on the ground and ensure a lasting ceasefire in Idlib. Idlib is the last refuge for Syrians fleeing Assad and it should be protected.

Our work towards implementation of the March 5th Additional Protocol continues successfully.

Let me reiterate once again why it is essential to preserve the ceasefire in Idlib and stop the violations of the regime:

• It is essential for protection of millions of civilians.
• It is indispensable for improving the humanitarian situation and ensuring unhindered humanitarian access.
• It is necessary for facilitating return of IDPs.
• And it is crucial for creating the conditions for advancing substantive and result-oriented political process.

Since the March 5 ceasefire, the Council has been regularly informed by Special Envoy Pedersen as well as USG Lowcock about the developments on the ground.

You are all well aware of regime’s attempts to use the ceasefire as an opportunity to regroup.

We have been observing military build-up by the regime and regime-supported militia around the Idlib De-escalation Area, as well as ceasefire violations.

These actions are clear attempts of the regime to sabotage the calm on the ground and derail the political process.

Given regime’s track record, this development risks the lives of millions of Syrians, mostly women and children.

Turkey will continue to take all necessary measures for protecting civilians. This Council should also raise its voice and not allow the regime to undermine the ceasefire in Idlib.

We also continue our joint efforts with the Russian Federation to preserve the ceasefire in the northwest. Yesterday Turkish and Russian officials have met in Ankara within this framework.

Mr. President,

The terrorist organization PKK/YPG continues to threaten the stability and unity of Syria with its increasingly brazen actions.

The Security Council needs to be vigilant against PKK/YPG's attempts to gain legitimacy under the guise of so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces”.

This is a terrorist organization that has the blood of both Turkish and Syrian civilians in its hands.

Since October 2019 PKK/YPG has carried out over 250 terrorist attacks targeting civilians in areas that Turkey conducted operations to establish stability and calm.

These attacks resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties. At the same time, this terrorist organization sees no shame in releasing DAESH detainees.

Turkey is resolved to continue its fight against all terrorists targeting the security and stability of Turkey and Syria.

International community must also demonstrate a united front against terrorism by condemning PKK/YPG’s terrorist attacks, without hesitation.

In addition to targeting civilians, PKK/YPG seeks to consolidate its power throughout northeast by oppression and economic incentives.

It goes so far to usurp natural resources of Syria, engaging in so-called oil contracts with third parties.

It promulgates so-called legislations to find a legal cover for confiscation of private property.

It denies education to other communities including Christians.

It recruits children and denies them their right to education and freedom.

It tries to create faits-accomplis on the ground in blatant violation of principles of territorial integrity and unity of Syria, enshrined in Resolution 2254.

Turkey strongly condemns these actions and regrets that UN officials have the illusion that conducting meetings with this group would serve anything other than helping their quest to gain international legitimacy.

Let me also be clear about the attempts to include the PKK/YPG in the political process, through so-called “reconciliation talks”: A terrorist entity with a separatist agenda for Syria, in stark contradiction with all relevant Security Council resolutions, has no place in this process.

Mr. President,

As to the previous speaker’s lies and fabrications, I want to make two points: I do not consider him as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. And I will not honour him with a reply.

Thank you.