Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: Implementation of resolution 2532 (2020)”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 17.02.2021
Mr. President,

The Covid-19 crisis has been devastating for millions of people across the world, with far-reaching implications on international peace and security. The emergence of new variants further complicates our plans to go back to normal.

Although we take heart from the safe and effective development of Covid-19 vaccines, their equitable distribution to all remains another challenge.

World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recently stated that more than three quarters of the 128 million vaccine doses administered to date are only allocated to 10 countries.

Clearly, this strategy will not help us end the pandemic. “Vaccine nationalism” is morally wrong and practically counter-productive, undermining the efforts to bring Covid-19 under control.

We must first recognize that vaccines as well as diagnostic tests and treatments must be global public goods. We must also improve our joint efforts to overcome operational challenges on the ground, including logistics, storage and humanitarian access.

Mr. President,

Turkey has been actively engaged in multilateral efforts to contain the virus and mitigate its impact. We support equitable access to effective and affordable Covid-19 vaccine and pledged 53 million US Dollars to the COVAX initiative.

We aim at inoculating 60 percent of our population in the coming months. Millions of displaced Syrians as well as people with other nationalities who took refuge in Turkey benefit from medical services free of charge and are naturally part of our vaccination programme.

We invite all member states and international organizations to adopt the guiding principle of “leaving no one behind” in their vaccination programmes.

We also take pride in the fact that 18 vaccine candidates developed in Turkey are listed in WHO’s list. Our first domestic Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be ready for deployment in the spring.

Mr. President,

The situation of vulnerable groups in emergency settings is aggravating with relentless attacks, spread of Covid-19 and harsh winter conditions.

It is time for the international community and particularly the members of the Security Council to heed the voices of these people.

In Syria, the failure of the Security Council to re-authorize Bab al Salam crossing point within the UN cross-border mechanism, has exacerbated the already dire situation of 1.3 million civilians living in northern Aleppo. More than 4 million people in northwest Syria depend on these operations.

Since December 2020, the number of Covid-19 cases in northwest Syria increased by over 7 percent, and associated deaths rose by around 46 percent.

To date, WHO dispatched 141,100 test kits and other pandemic-related items from Turkey to northwest Syria through the UN cross-border mechanism. Turkish Red Crescent, in cooperation with OCHA and WHO, delivered pandemic response items in the northwest, which are worth around 7.7 million US Dollars.

We expect the UN to plan implementing a vaccine campaign for those living in northwest Syria as well as Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad regions, in addition to dispatching additional test kits and personal protective equipment.

Cross-border mechanism remains the only instrument to channel Covid-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable in northwest Syria. It is incumbent upon the Council to uphold its responsibility and secure the continuation of the cross-border humanitarian operations with the inclusion of the Bab al Salam crossing point in the mechanism.

The Council should not fail to prevent a new humanitarian catastrophe with humanitarian and security repercussions in the region and beyond.
Mr. President,

Unfortunately, diagnostic tests and basic medical equipment are still out of reach of many least developed countries, which face imminent challenges of conflict and fragility.

To prevent further economic costs and other factors of instability, we need to increase our efforts to ensure that least developed countries are not left behind, especially in the provision of affordable and rapid supply of vaccines.

Importantly, we should improve our policies to share technical know-how to manufacture drugs and vaccines in developing countries. With this understanding, the UN Technology Bank launched the “Tech Access Partnership” (TAP) initiative last year to increase the local production of essential medical technologies in the least developed countries.

The pandemic has exposed and compounded the fragility of economic and healthcare systems in the face of such an emergency. It laid bare the fact that no country can overcome the Covid-19 threat on its own, regardless of its size or power. It also demonstrated that in the face of such a daunting challenge, our fates are closely interlinked, across borders, cultures and generations.

The recovery from this crisis will only be assured by coordinated multilateral efforts, with a strong UN system response on the ground. The reinvigorated UN development system, together with Funds and Programmes, is well-positioned to live up to this task.

More than ever, we need a robust multilateral response led by the UN and WHO, in the next stages of our efforts to fight this unprecedented crisis. Turkey will continue to be a steadfast member of the international community in overcoming the adverse consequences of the pandemic. We also look forward to contributing to the efforts to enhance the UN’s partnership with all relevant stakeholders to deliver Covid-19 response tools, including vaccines, to the most vulnerable people and countries.

Thank you.