Statement by Turkey at the General Assembly Meeting on Syria

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 30.03.2021
Mr. President,
Thank you for convening this important and timely meeting. I also extend our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his briefing.
On different occasions this month, we heard testimonies from Syrians about unimagineable levels of suffering that people continue to endure in Syria.
Ten years of war have inflicted irreparable damages throughout the country, impacting particularly women and children disproportionately.
We all remember the painful images of Baby Aylan, whose lifeless body was swept ashore in 2015.
Likewise, we have not forgotten the image of Baby Omran, who was saved from the wreckage of his bombed house in Aleppo and was sitting in the ambulance covered in blood and dust.
Civilians in Syria continue to be the daily victims of brutal violence and indiscriminate attacks by the regime and its backers.
Mr. President,
The only way to end this bloodshed in Syria is an inclusive political settlement on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
The adoption of this Resolution six years ago had been an important boost on the road to a political settlement, by calling on the regime to stop its atrocities and laying the groundwork for a government in Syria in line with the legitimate aspirations of its people.
The Constitutional Committee, as the sole mechanism put in place to advance the political track, has been increasingly subject to the regime’s delaying tactics and obstructions, while the Syrian opposition has displayed strong commitment throughout the process. The work of the Committee remains crucial and should be supported by all means.
It is obvious that calm on the ground is indispensable for a genuine advancement in the political track.
When we look at the situation from the Turkish side, we see a crisis intensifying every day, threatening regional and international peace and security as well as posing a grave burden on Syria’s neighbors.
Turkey will continue its efforts to maintain de-escalation on the ground and the March 5th ceasefire in Idlib.
We remember with grief the killing of 36 Turkish soldiers as a result of a series of airstrikes that took place on a single day last year.
The barbaric attack on Atarib Hospital last week, which claimed many innocent lives, is a stark reminder that the regime is hell-bent on continuing its military campaign against its own people.
It is time for the international community to say enough is enough. We should be united in preventing the recurrence of war crimes by the regime, its backers and terrorist organizations.
Mr. President,
An important component of Resolution 2254 is its emphasis on unimpeded humanitarian access through most direct routes and the call for the full implementation of relevant Security Council Resolutions authorizing UN cross-border humanitarian operations.
In Syria, we are faced with one of the most acute and severe humanitarian crises in the world.
Unfortunately, since last year, we witness the politicization of this vital issue in an increased manner in the Security Council.
As a matter of fact, humanitarian issues are not a matter of negotiation, it is an international obligation.
The Council cannot fail again to respond to the basic expectations of Syrian people at a critical time when more humanitarian access is needed due to the pandemic. The Council should not make another mistake while the humanitarian situation is worse than last year and the already large number of people in humanitarian need has increased by 20%.
Although record levels of humanitarian aid is channeled through the single crossing point Bab al Hawa from Turkey, it is impossible to reach all people in need in the northwest.
This is particularly the case for 1.3 million IDPs living in Northern Aleppo who used to receive UN assistance from Bab al Salam until last July.
Shutting down the most direct route to food and medical assistance will not serve the political calculations of those behind it.
It is our joint responsibility to reach those in need and coordinate our efforts towards the continuation of UN cross-border operations beyond July 2021. This is indispensable for the transfer of COVID-19 vaccines to millions of people awaiting our help in their fight against the pandemic.
Bab al Hawa crossing point should be preserved and Bab Al Salam should be included in the mechanism.
Some argue that cross-line access is possible in Syria to respond to the acute humanitarian needs. Benefiting from the presence of such a distinguished panel, we would appreciate to hear today about the amount of humanitarian aid channeled by the UN in regime-controlled areas, the number of requests, approvals received by the regime and the duration of the approval process regarding cross-line access, as well as the number of cross-line operations conducted so far.
Mr. President,
We have gathered today for a cause, which is voicing the requests of the Syrian people from the international community.
Attempts to divert the focus of this meeting with narrow political agendas will only harm these legitimate requests. The EU representative just made a reckless reference to my country, while consciously refraining from identifying the real perpetrators of the most horrific war crimes. I categorically reject this reference. To set the record straight, let me make the following clarifications.
Turkey is fully committed to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Syria.
Areas that were cleared from terrorism in the exercise of our right of self-defense, are administered and controlled by the Syrian Interim Government, which is formed by the legitimate representatives of Syrian opposition, namely the Syrian Naitonal Coalition.
Therefore, claiming that these areas are under “effective control” by Turkey is not only factually errouneous, but also seriously misleading from a legal perspective.
As such, the EU contributes to the campaigns of distortion by the Syrian regime and the PKK/YPG terrorist organization regarding the nature and purpose of Turkey’s legitimate and lawful actions in the concerned area.
Turkey plays a pivotal role in that area for the security and protection of Syrian people.
Mr. President,
In the coming weeks, the renewal of the UN cross-border humanitarian mechanism will be a litmus test for some to make the right choice.
Those who will leave millions of innocent people at the mercy of the Assad regime will choose to be on the wrong side of history and humanity.
We should show that the conscience of the international community cannot be taken hostage.
We have the responsibility to protect and now is the time to act.
Thank you.