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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 25.11.2020
Madam President,

I would like to thank Deputy Special Envoy Khawla Mattar and Acting ASG for Humanitarian Affairs Rajasingham for their briefings.

People in Syria are trapped in an endless war. They are subject to crimes against humanity at the hands of Assad’s ruthless regime. They are striving to survive in lamentable conditions.

The situation at our doorstep in northwest Syria is alarming with the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. 1.5 million out of 4 million Syrians in this region live in hundreds of overcrowded IDP camps and they are directly exposed to COVID-19, without any means of prevention and isolation. Hospitals and health facilites are struggling.

Since the last Security Council meeting on Syria, the percentage of healthcare workers among current cases increased to 15. Half of the healthcare workers infected throughout Syria are in the northwest.

We have mobilized all our resources in order to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups, especially women and children. In accordance with the recent trilateral agreement on the fight against COVID-19, Turkish Red Crescent, OCHA and WHO started to deliver health aid and items in the northwest, which are worth around 7.7 million US Dollars.

We will also continue to support and strengthen the resilience of Syrian people through our own means and by facilitating the cross-border humanitarian operations. Unimpeded flow of humanitarian assistance is essential.

With limited cross-border operations, the UN makes enormous efforts every month to reach 1.3 million people in northern Aleppo who were previously served via Bab al Salam crossing point.

Since the adoption of the Resolution 2533 last July, around 2.500 trucks crossed into the northwest through Bab al Hawa. This figure corresponds only to half of the volume channeled through our crossing points within the same timeframe prior to the Resolution 2533.

If the Council fails to reauthorize Bab al Salam crossing point, it will condone further deterioration of the humanitarian situation. This might have security repercussions for the whole region and beyond.

Madam President,

Preserving the ceasefire in Idlib is a sine qua non for the protection of millions of vulnerable civilians living under dire conditions.

Turkey remains fully committed to ensuring a lasting ceasefire in Idlib. We continue to engage with Russia in technical talks and in joint efforts towards the full implementation of the Additional Protocol.

Unfortunately, there is a worrying increase in ceasefire violations targeting civilians and moderate opposition groups in the Idlib De-escalation Area. These attacks risk triggering a new humanitarian crisis and provide a pretext for terrorist organizations to exploit the situation. All ceasefire violations in contravention of the Additional Protocol and existing agreements must be stopped.

Madam President,

While we make all the efforts to alleviate the human suffering and take all the necessary measures to preserve the ceasefire in Idlib, we also continue to contribute to advancing the political process in line with Resolution 2254.

Turkey, in her capacity as an Astana guarantor, played a leading role in the establishment of the Constitutional Committee. Currently, this Committee is the sole functioning mechanism within the political process.

We wholeheartedly support Special Envoy Pedersen’s efforts to facilitate the Committee’s work in a systematic manner. We reiterated our strong support to his facilitation role during his visit to Ankara on 2nd and 3rd November.

We welcome the announcement that the next two rounds of the Constitutional Committee will be held during the course of next week and in January 2021 respectively.

We believe that it is crucial to accelerate the work of the Committee through regular meetings. Next rounds should focus on the substance, and the constitutional process should, in due course, yield results that address the legitimate aspirations of Syrian people. Syrians should not wait another decade to meet their expectations.

Madam President,

Advancing the work of the Committee and the political process in general will contribute to the common goal of creating a conducive environment for voluntary, safe and dignified return of Syrians.

With 4 million Syrians living in Turkey and 5 million under our care and protection in Syria, we are aware of the demands and expectations of the Syrian people from the international community.

It is a shame that the Assad regime is organizing meetings under the pretext of discussing the return of refugees. These are attempts by this murderous regime to add insult to injury.

Through mechanisms in place with UNHCR but also with neighboring countries, we have been discussing the issue of returns in full compliance with the UN criteria. We are ready to support any initiative reflecting the UN parameters on this matter, with agreed modalities and scope. We will continue to oppose any initiatives attempting to support the regime’s agenda and its unlawful actions.

Madam President,

Let me briefly touch upon the situation in the Al Hol camp which has increasingly become a source of concern.

Over 63.000 people, 94% of whom are women and children, live in extremely miserable conditions in the camp where security incidents and reports of deaths continue to be recorded. Family reunification and repatriation remain crucial for long-term solutions to this lasting problem.

In this part of Syria, actions of the terrorist organization PKK/YPG threatening the territorial integrity of Syria have been steadily increasing. Yesterday’s bomb attacks carried out by PKK/YPG in Afrin and Al Bab resulting in scores of civilian casualties are latest testaments of the total disregard this terrorist organization has for human life.

PKK/YPG continues to release DEASH detainees en masse through so-called amnesties, when it serves its interest. According to media reports, in the last two months alone PKK/YPG released over 1.000 DEASH members.

In the face of such brazen acts, it truly defies logic when some member states still insist on portraying PKK/YPG as a “reliable partner in the fight against terrorism”. How can anyone in their right mind trust a terrorist group to combat another? How many more DEASH members need to be arbitrarily released by PKK/YPG before the international community reacts? International community can no longer remain silent to these terrorist acts, infiltrations and harassments. Turkey will certainly not remain idle. We will not hesitate taking necessary steps to safeguard our national security and ensure that peace and stability prevail.

Madam President,

To conclude, let us remember how we reached this point: the regime, instead of meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, has employed all instruments of violence in its disposal to prolong its grip to power.

The people of Syria have been punished brutally including by chemical weapons, barrel bombs, demographic change, sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, torture, starvation and sieges.

These are facts. They are all well documented. We all know the blunt reality. The persistent lies of the regime do not change that.

As to the delusional remarks of the regime representative, I would like to emphasize that I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart.

His mere presence here is an affront to the millions of Syrians who suffered countless crimes at the hands of this regime.

Therefore, I will not honor him with a response.

Thank you.