Statement by H.E. Yaşar Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, on Middle East at the United Nations Security Council

Halit Çevik 24.04.2013
Mr. President,

Allow me to first express our appreciation to you for organizing this open debate on Middle East.

The Middle East has been going through a significant period of transition and change. At the heart of the challenges we face in the Middle East lies the Palestinian question. This issue continues to poison the prospects of regional cooperation, welfare and peace. Turkey has always supported a two-state solution based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, also sitting side by side with us on an equal footing under this roof. Revival of the Middle East Peace Process, which has been in a deadlock for some time, and the resumption of comprehensive peace negotiations between the parties for a just and lasting solution, have become increasingly crucial. This is especially important in the face of every passing hour, which makes a two-state solution less probable.

In this regard, we appreciate the renewed engagement of the US administration in facilitating the peace process. Turkey, as always, is ready to contribute to all international efforts towards a just and lasting settlement.

Israel’s illegal settlement activities present serious obstacles before the resumption of the negotiations. It is time to seriously commit to and respect the established parameters of the Peace Process. As such the decision of the Human Rights Council in March, to establish an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the human rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, is noteworthy.

The worrying situation of the Palestinian prisoners under Israeli custody continues to be a great source of concern, which, as also demonstrated in the last months, has the potential to derail any desired advancement in peace talks. On that note, I would like to reiterate our position of denouncing violence, regardless of the motives behind.

The illegal blockade on Gaza is not sustainable. We expect the Israeli Government to lift the blockade, in accordance with Israel’s bilateral or multilateral commitments. Arbitrary closures on border crossings and other punitive measures against the civilian population in Gaza are counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve.

Mr. President,
In the meantime, we shall continue to give our full support to the Palestinian reconciliation, which, we believe, constitutes one of the pillars for peace in the Middle East. This important requirement should not be put on the back burner, behind the peace negotiations. It is also important that the Palestinian parties understand that reconciliation will deliver recognition of their role towards peace. Trusting the leadership of H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas, we will continue to urge parties for an expedited outcome for their efforts. The international community should also be ready to lend its support to a Palestinian unity government followed by elections.

Turkey will continue to support the Peace Process, as well as the rightful aspirations of the Palestinian people for an internationally recognized statehood in accordance with the UN resolutions, Madrid Principles, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Mr. President,
Allow me to touch upon the humanitarian disaster right across our border with Syria:
With more than 70.000 dead, 1.3 million refugees, 4.5 million internally displaced and 6 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the Syrian crisis is the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world. As we have also stated last week in this Chamber, the international community has a moral responsibility to support the Syrian people in their struggle and this has to be done urgently, collectively and decisively.
The average number of daily crossings by the Syrians into the neighboring countries has reached 8 thousand and it is not realistic to expect the neighboring countries to continue to absorb the influx of Syrian refugees at its current intensity.
We believe that, pending the political solution, the international community should start discussing unexplored ways and means to address the problems and needs of internally displaced persons within Syrian territory and to find alternative destinations for those who choose to leave their country with feelings of insecurity.

Foreign Ministers of 11 countries in the Group of Friends of Syrian People, in their meeting in Istanbul last Saturday, agreed that immediate action has to be taken to bring the Syrian conflict to an end. On the side-lines of the meeting, Syrian National Coalition reiterated its very important vision of the “New Syria”, a democratic and pluralistic state, based on the rule of law, where all the Syrians, men and women, will be equal, regardless of their ethnic, religious and sectarian background. These statements are only encouraging as long as the international community unites and works hand in hand for all universal values which we believe in.

Mr. President,
Let me conclude by sharing the view that 2013 is vital for Peace in the Middle East and now it is time for sincere and concrete action. There is an ever growing need for concerted action towards a two-state solution.
Thank you.