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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 17.12.2020
Mr. President,

First, I would like to thank Special Envoy Pedersen and USG Lowcock for their briefings.

The situation in Syria has continued to deteriorate due to the despicable war by the regime against the people and the spread of COVID-19 in this country.

OCHA and WHO report that the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country are detected in the northwest. This is not surprising given the densely-populated IDP settlements and a devastated health system in the region due to relentless aggression imposed on the population.

Since we discussed the humanitarian situation in Syria last month, approximately 300 convoys have channeled aid items from Turkey through the single crossing point Bab al Hawa into the northwest. We continue to facilitate and fully support the UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.

Yet, it is clear that the current restricted humanitarian space in the northwest stems from the failure of the Security Council to maintain Bab al Salam crossing point in the cross-border mechanism.

The General Assembly adopted today the Third Committee resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria and urged the Security Council to re-authorize Bab al Salam for cross-border humanitarian operations.

We join this call and request the Security Council to fulfill its responsibility as a matter of priority by re-opening this gate before the humanitarian crisis turns into a tragedy threatening the whole region and beyond.

Mr. President,

Last week, Allouk water station faced once again disruption challenges with the electricity power being deliberately cut by the terrorist organization PKK/YPG. Despite our repeated initiatives before all interested parties and the constructive approach displayed by the Syrian opposition and Turkey, the problem remains to be solved. It is unacceptable that terrorists continue to exploit water and electricity for their separatist agenda.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the need for electricity in the region to a critical level, these repeated power cuts have serious repercussions on the health services in the region. Urgent steps must be taken to put an end to this inhumane practice and ensure the resumption of electric power to the water station and the whole region.

Let us also not forget about the serious shortages of potable and agricultural water supply in Al Bab and surrounding areas affecting around 200.000 people. Due to the ongoing and deliberate blockage by the regime of the water supply lines, sanitation services are undermined and the public health is seriously compromised at a time when an effective response to the COVID-19 is most crucial.

Mr. President,

On the political track, the Constitutional Committee is currently the sole functioning mechanism. In the period ahead, its work should be advanced in an accelerated and productive manner. We will continue our efforts to that end, within the Astana framework and in collaboration and coordination with UN and other relevant actors.

In this regard, we welcome the convening of the fourth round of the small body of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva two weeks ago.

We believe that this meeting was useful in enabling the Syrian parties to express their views and expectations under the agenda item of “national foundations and principles”.

With the fifth round scheduled for January, we expect the Committee to start focusing on the constitutional principles, entering a phase of results-oriented substantial work. We would like to once again underline the importance of complying with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure of the Committee.

Astana process is a critical element of overall efforts for finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict. Our joint work within this framework towards resolving the conflict on the basis of unity and territorial integrity of Syria continues despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

March 5th Additional Protocol plays a crucial role for preserving the calm on the ground. The ceasefire in Idlib enabled return of hundreds of thousands of Syrians to their homes.

Having said that, the regime continues its ceasefire violations. These violations and attacks against civilians, coupled with winter conditions, could unleash a new humanitarian crisis and yet another migration wave.

In line with the Additional Protocol and previous agreements, we continue our technical engagement with the Russian Federation, as well as our efforts to overcome the obstacles to a lasting ceasefire.

Determined to counter all terrorist threats emanating from Syria, Turkey continues her resolute fight against DAESH on the ground. Turkish Armed Forces, which have eliminated 4.000 DAESH elements in Syria and Iraq to date, neutralized 29 DAESH members in Syria only during the course of last month.

PKK/YPG constitutes another major threat to the security of Syria. The deplorable terrorist attack carried out by PKK/YPG on December 10 in Rasulayn resulted in the death of two Turkish soldiers, injuring eight others. We thank our friends and allies who have extended messages of condolences. We call on everyone to explicitly state the obvious perpetrators of this heinous terrorist attack.

Ain Isa and Tel Tamar on the east of Euphrates and Manbij and Tel Rifat on its west, have become PKK/YPG’s launching pads for their planned attacks against innocent Syrian civilians, our country, our security forces in Syria and Syrian National Army, as well as for their infiltration and harassment activities.

Turkey will not compromise on its steadfast fight against PKK/YPG, which launched over 300 terrorist attacks only in the last 12 months.

Turkey maintains her firm stance against PKK/YPG’s attempts to gain legitimacy under the guise of so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” and its efforts to consolidate its domination over the northeast through oppression and economic incentives. International community should refrain from actions that would violate international law and serve the separatist agenda of PKK/YPG hiding behind the name of so-called “SDF”.

This illegitimate entity in the east of Euphrates has been releasing DAESH members and their families, as well as suspected affiliates when it serves its interest. It is reported that this terrorist entity is also working on illegally trying DAESH members with the help of some countries and civil society organizations. This is a very worrying development for the territorial integrity and unity of Syria. Clearly, such a brazen act constitutes an egregious violation of international law. We reiterate our strong call to the international community to be vigilant and not to become accessory to this terrorist propaganda.

Mr. President,

I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of education and bringing safety to children in Syria who will be the ones to redesign their country.

It is estimated that half of the children that were going to school in northern Syria before the pandemic have now dropped out.

While more than 750.000 of over 1 million school-age Syrian children in Turkey are enrolled in education, we need to create opportunities for children in Syria as well to avoid the risk of a lost generation that could blight Syria’s chances of recovery for years to come.

The brutal war launched by the Assad regime has displaced millions and killed thousands of children. The Secretary-General reports that on the 4th of November, shelling by the regime caused damage and killed children in schools located in Ariha and Kafrya in the northwest. We should not let Syrian children down.

The Assad regime continues to pursue medieval tactics such as “starve and surrender” and throws false accusations to those standing by the Syrian people. The regime still aims military victory. We will not let this happen. And we will hold them accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity they have committed throughout Syria.

As to the statement made by the Syrian regime representative, I will repeat, I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart, his presence here is an affront to the millions of Syrians who suffered countless crimes at the hands of the regime and therefore I will not honor his delusional remarks with a response.

Thank you.