Statement by H.E. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the GA on the situation in the Middle East

Halit Çevik 30.11.2012
Mr. President,

Yesterday this Chamber extended an overwhelming support to the People of Palestine at yet another historic moment in the history of United Nations. With this historic voting, Palestine took a great step towards gaining the position it deserves as an independent and sovereign state recognized by the international community. We sincerely hope and believe that this development will lead the way for a just and comprehensive peace and shall break the stalemate in the peace process.

As such, yesterday’s vote should be utilized as a new momentum into revitalizing the peace talks and Palestinian reconciliation immediately. The recent cease-fire sets the appropriate circumstances for both parties to focus on diplomacy. Today, we should all encourage the parties to take this step. It is our foremost objective to find a solution to the Palestinian question on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. We all have to be sure about one fact: This stalemate is neither sustainable nor is it acceptable. The recent operation on Gaza, resulting in the loss of many innocent civilian lives, was a testimony to this. Needless to say, illegal settlement activities and the ongoing blockade on Gaza for over five years, seriously harm the prospects of peace ahead. Therefore we repeat our calls for the immediate implementation of the Security Council resolution 1860 to end the restrictions on the inhabitants of Gaza, which affect their basic human rights each and every day.

We will resolutely maintain our efforts for Palestine to be granted the UN membership in the near future with our other international partners and will continue to defend the just cause of the Palestinian people.

Mr. President,

The situation in Syria continues to be a grave humanitarian crisis. Entering into cold winter circumstances, the humanitarian situation is getting even more dramatic. This morning we heard in detail from Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Joint Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States: The crisis have gone beyond being local and unfortunately spilled over into neighbouring countries, be it in the form of cross-border fire, or in the massive movement of the civilians seeking safety and shelter. Turkey lost five citizens in the town of Akçakale due to these cross border shellings. More were injured as a result of stray bullets and shell fragments. Yet we shall continue to utilise our all efforts, together with the support of the international community, to continue extending our helping hand to the Syrian People. As of today, Turkey hosts 130.449 Syrians in 14 camps with sanitation, health and education facilities. Some 80 thousand is residing elsewhere in Turkey making their way to various cities and towns by their own means. To cope with the increasing numbers, we are building more and trying to meet the humanitarian demand. However, as highlighted by the Secretary General and the Special Joint Representative this morning, humanitarian response plans to the crisis in Syria are severely underfunded and require further attention of the international community.

However, efforts on the humanitarian dimension are not enough to address the root cause of the crisis. Towards this end, Turkey will continue to support Special Representative Mr. Brahimi and the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian People.

Mr. President,

The people of the Middle East rightfully deserve a dignified life and the dividends of democracy and peace. Each and every nation will have its own way of addressing this question. Yet the international community’s stance to each case should be identical: a staunch support to universal values and principles that uphold human dignity, and respect to unity and territorial integrity.

On that note Mr. President,

Allow me to commend the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas and conclude by congratulating the Palestinian delegation in this room, as well as the People of the State of Palestine. Now it is time for all of us to encourage the two States, to live side by side in peace.

Thank you.