UNSC Open Debate on Middle East Text of Remarks by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan Permanent Representative of Turkey

Ertuğrul Apakan 24.10.2011
Thank you Madam President.

Allow me at the outset to express our gratitude to those who expressed condolences and sympathies to my government and the Turkish people at this time of loss and suffering following the devastating earthquake in Turkey. We have felt the solidarity of the international community with us.

We also want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi people for the passing away of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

Madam President,

As the Security Council holds another open debate on the situation in the Middle East, a long awaited transformation and restoration process is underway in the region. The quest for democracy in the region may be delayed, but it cannot be reversed.

As an advocate of democracy, pluralism, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the region, Turkey will not waver in its support for those who are peacefully demanding change.

We welcome the conclusion of the rightful struggle of the Libyan people for freedom, justice and democracy with a decisive victory. The fate of the autocratic regime which prevailed for more than four decades constitutes a bitter lesson that should be taken into consideration in all its dimensions within the context of the ongoing change and democratic transformation movements in the region. We strongly believe that the political process in Libya will be completed in unity and solidarity, through an inclusive approach embracing all segments of the society.

Meanwhile, we welcome the Resolution no. 2014 on Yemen, adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council, as timely, constructive and positive step, taken by the international community with a view to bringing an end to the clashes in the country. Turkey has fully supported the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative. We reaffirm our wish that the crisis in the country be overcome through peaceful means as soon as possible.

In this context, Turkey is extremely concerned about the developments in Syria. We observe with great concern the ongoing violence on civilians in Syria. Violence is not the effective course to follow. The likelihood of a sectarian and ethnic divide must be avoided at all cost. The legitimate expectations of the Syrian people should be respected.

Madam President,

While many in the region aspire for a better future, Palestinians, in their millions, whether in Gaza or the West Bank or in refugee camps across the region continue to suffer a disastrous fate; not of their own making. This is an anomaly and it must be addressed as a matter of utmost urgency.

Turkey rejects violence in any shape or form and by any party as unacceptable and unjustifiable. We also believe there to be no genuine alternative to a negotiated settlement. There is no doubt that meaningful engagement that inspires confidence for both Palestine and Israel cannot begin while settlement activity continues, day in day out, including in occupied East Jerusalem. Indeed, Israel’s continuous settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories and its deliberately choosing for its settlements the regions which separate the Palestinian territories destroy the basis for peace.

We once again call on Israel, based on its Road Map commitments, to cease all settlement activity and return to direct negotiations with the Palestinian side on the basis of the 1967 borders. This is currently the only way that will open the path towards the realization of a two-state solution based on the well established principles where Israel and Palestine will live side by side in peace and security.

Madam President,

Palestine has submitted its application for membership to the UN. This was a historic step, long in coming. Turkey believes it is high time for Palestine to become a member of the UN and recognized by all nations, based on the 1967 borders, as a fully-fledged member state within the international community. The very notion of a two-state solution, going as far back as to 1947, is the firm and clear basis for this. Common sense and good conscience dictate that, like Israel 63 years ago, Palestine should become a member of the UN. This would also help direct negotiations as it would create political equality among the two parties. Ultimately, beyond all the legal or political arguments, it is simply not fair to hold the State of Palestine hostage to Israel’s continued intransigence.

Madam President,

Turkey welcomes the recent prisoner exchange. This is a humanitarian issue, and, irrespective of other developments, Turkey has played its part to support the talks and ensure that a fair deal could be struck which would also help create a positive atmosphere to address other issues.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Gaza Strip continues to be an embarrassment for the international community. This inhumane and illegal practice must end.

Unfortunately, Israel’s unlawful blockade of Gaza continues. The international community must ensure that there is accountability both for the blockade and Israel’s attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla last year that left 9 civilians dead in international waters. This is why, it is envisaged to mobilize relevant platforms, with the support of member states, in order to refer this issue to ICJ.

On the other hand, having welcomed the unity agreement reached among the Palestinians, Turkey hopes the process of national reconciliation can be concluded soon with the formation of an inclusive and democratically representative government that will take the Palestinian nation to free and fair elections.

In conclusion, let me reiterate once more Turkey’s strong support for the realization of a just and lasting comprehensive peace in the region based on the two state solution; as well as our determination to assist our Palestinian brothers and sisters in attaining their long-delayed goal of a viable, peaceful and prosperous State of Palestine that is a full-fledged member of the UN.

Thank you Madam President.