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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 25.02.2021
Madam President,
Thank you for organizing this meeting. I also thank USG Lowcock for his briefing.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the Syrian conflict, the Assad regime’s brutal response to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people continues.

Starvation and targeted attacks by the regime and its backers have claimed countless lives. Millions of innocent people have been displaced. Tens of thousands have disappeared or have been tortured to death in the prisons of the regime.

The crisis is getting worse with ongoing attacks and displacement, combined with the economic crisis, spread of COVID-19 and harsh winter conditions.

In its tenth year, the crisis in Syria requires more attention and action from the international community, in particular from the Security Council.
Madam President,
Last week, NYT correspondent who visited northwest Syria recently shared testimonies depicting Turkey’s pivotal role for the security and protection of Syrian people. Turkey remains the only international force on the ground taking care of five million displaced and vulnerable civilians. Our presence gives hope to millions. We will never let them down.

We resolutely continue our efforts towards preserving the Idlib ceasefire. This is essential to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe and a new migration flux with repercussions for the region, as well as Europe.

We reiterate our call to the Council and the entire international community to support our efforts.
Recent images from Idlib show destruction of thousands of tents by floods, and by warplanes.

Warplanes commissioned to kill civilians. This is unacceptable.

The world cannot turn its back on this massive humanitarian crisis.

In the face of this man-made disaster of massive proportions, the Council does not have the option of inaction.
Madam President,
The failure of the Council last July to sustain the existing UN cross-border mechanism has exacerbated the already dire situation of 1.3 million of people in Northern Aleppo, by blocking the most direct route for humanitarian aid.

It is inconceivable to add 4 million people to those already deprived of basic humanitarian assistance.

Stopping the humanitarian mechanism will be a deadly blow to the innocent people in need, leaving them to the mercy of the Assad regime.

The Council has the responsibility to protect Syrian people. You cannot abandon them.

The Council must respond to the strong call made by the General Assembly for the continuation of UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.

The UN cross-border mechanism is also the only tool for the transfer of COVID-19 vaccines to the people in the northwest.

lt is estimated that only one fifth of the population will receive vaccines by next year.

In the joint statement following the Astana format meeting in Sochi last week, together with Russia and Iran, we called upon the UN to prioritize the vaccination inside Syria and emphasized the need to increase humanitarian assistance throughout the country.

We will be following up on these commitments to make sure that the UN is not deprived of its most critical tools amidst the global health crisis.
Madam President,
While the regime bombs its own people and starves them to death, terrorist organization PKK/YPG pursues the same evil agenda by committing war crimes in northern Syria.

More than twenty civilians, including children, lost their lives in attacks in Tel Abyad, Azez, Afrin and El Bab over the last weeks. In just over a year, PKK/YPG committed over 350 attacks and 70 car bombings, indiscriminately targeting civilians.

We regret to see that some member states still refrain from condemning these terrorist attacks. Those who think that they can reason and have a common agenda with terrorism are making a grave mistake. This must stop.

l want to remind those member states that there are no “good terrorists”. The very same terrorist organization can knock on others’ doors one day. It happened before and it will happen again. So, stop supporting PKK/YPG.

Madam President,
The situation in the northeast and the untenable security environment in Al Hol camp in particular, under de facto control of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” reveal the failure of these narrow agendas.

The Secretary-General in his latest report underlines the tactics of the so-called SDF, which include blocking humanitarian aid, imposing arbitrary school curricula based on its terrorist ideology and arresting teachers.

Turkey is resolved to fight against all terrorist groups that threaten its national security, and Syria’s unity.
We will continue without hesitation, just as we have done as an active member of the Global Coalition Against DA’ESH since its inception and as the only NATO country that engaged in chest-to-chest combat against DA’ESH.
Those who ignore the atrocities of PKK/YPG under the pretext of countering DA’ESH, on the other hand, undermine their own credibility in the fight against terrorism.

Madam President,

Every month, on several occasions we listen to numerous misrepresentations and lies by the representative of the regime. It continues in full swing, as we just heard, but to no avail.

These lies will not stop us from telling the truth and we will continue to stand by the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and their right to unhindered humanitarian assistance.

As to the statement made by the regime representative, I will repeat, I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart, therefore I will not honor him with a response.

Thank you.