Statement by Mr. Levent Eler, Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey, at the Open Debate of the Security Council

Levent Eler 29.04.2014
Mr. President,

At the outset, allow me to express our sincere congratulations to the Nigerian Presidency for successfully leading the Council’s work in April and convey my Delegation’s best wishes to the Republic of Korea for their upcoming Presidency.

Mr. President,

Turkey has supported all efforts towards a lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, comprising of two states living side by side in peace and security, based on pre-1967 borders, relevant UN resolutions, Madrid Principles and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Today was meant to mark the final date for the conclusion of the peace talks that have been launched between Israel and Palestine in July last year. Unfortunately, one of the parties decided to suspend the talks last week. We, deeply regret this decision. Turkey is of the view that the peace process and the Palestinian reconciliation efforts are not mutually exclusive and should not be presented as such. This view is also mentioned recurrently in various UN reports. In fact, the need for a Palestinian unity has been a reality since the division in 2007 and, if directed well and supported, this unity would help lay the ground for a sustainable and lasting peace in the region. With this understanding, Turkey welcomed the agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas and the decision to form a unity government which will embrace all Palestinians.

Mr. President,

As a matter of fact, it is hard to describe the political environment within which the peace talks were held, as conducive. The Israeli side did not live up to its commitments to release the fourth batch of pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, continued its illegal settlement and demolition activities, as well as its violations of the basic rights of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Settler violence, provocations against religious and holy sites including Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and attempts to meddle with the status of Jerusalem intensified. Embargo imposed on Gaza and the construction of the separation wall in defiance of international law as well as Security Council resolutions, remained in force.

The international community has a responsibility to take all necessary steps to end the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. Turkey, on its part, continues to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinian people through bilateral projects in several parts of Palestine, including the Gaza Strip. Last year, we delivered urgent aid including generators, fuel, flour and medicine to Gaza. In addition to our ongoing project to build a hospital, the Turkish Government has recently allocated another 1.5 million Dollars to a WHO project, which aims to provide further support to the health system in Gaza. However, long-term solutions are urgently needed to avoid greater humanitarian risks. Only a comprehensive and just settlement abolishing these restrictions will enable a robust and sustainable development of the Palestinian economy. We thus call once again for the immediate lifting of the embargo on Gaza in accordance with Resolution 1860 of the Security Council, as well as the cease-fire commitments of November 2012.

Mr. President,

The year 2014 has been proclaimed by the General Assembly as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This should be a year for all of us to mobilize our means and capabilities to support Palestine in economic and political realms. A politically and economically strong Palestine will surely be a stronger partner for Israel and the whole neighborhood for the years to come. Turkey supports the inalienable rights of the State of Palestine to enjoy fully the privileges of statehood, including becoming a member to the UN, other international organizations and joining international treaties.

Mr. President,

The Syrian regime missed yet another deadline to eliminate its “declared” chemical weapons before 27 April. Turkey is also deeply concerned about the reports indicating to the regime’s recent chlorine gas attacks on the civilian populations. We welcome the decision of the OPCW to send a mission to Syria to investigate the incidents. If the allegations are true, it constitutes a violation of the regime’s commitments.

The humanitarian situation in Syria, on the other hand, is deteriorating everyday due to the increasing number of people in need of urgent assistance and the regime’s continued arbitrary denial of access. The provisions of 2139 are very clear on stopping violence against civilians, putting an end to sieges, allowing rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and cross-border humanitarian operations from most direct routes. Using the issue of humanitarian access as a bargaining chip cannot be tolerated. The regime’s policy of deliberately minimizing the number of access points into Syria is a violation of the Resolution 2139 and putting forward such pre-conditions are unacceptable. As such, UN should find ways and means to provide humanitarian assistance through increased number of border gates, in order to ensure access to larger populations.

Having said that, Turkey, since the beginning of the crisis, has spared no effort to alleviate the suffering of our Syrian neighbors, consistently maintained “open-door” policy, facilitated zero-point humanitarian assistance and responsibly provided for the needs of the Syrians, who sought shelter in the 22 camps in Turkey and in various Turkish cities. As of April, 2014, the number of Syrians in Turkey is fast approaching to 1 million. Unfortunately, neither Turkey’s, nor Syria’s other neighbors’ resources are limitless. What we expect from our partners is an active engagement and meaningful contribution in shouldering this burden.

Mr. President,

Syrian regime, which clearly displayed reluctance to discuss the political transition in Geneva, once again revealed its insincerity about finding a political solution to the crisis, with the announcement of the so-called Presidential elections in June. Such an election, which will be organized apparently under the conditions where nearly half of the population is displaced, some still under indiscriminate attacks of the forces of the regime, will not only be null and void, but will also be in flagrant contradiction with the Geneva Communique and constitute another blow to the efforts for finding a political solution to the crisis. Way ahead for a solution to crisis is clearly mentioned in the Geneva Declaration; the immediate establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers.

Mr. President,

Peace and security in the Middle East is not an unattainable goal, as long as there is strong political resolve. In that sense, we call the leaderships of Israel and the State of Palestine to overcome the hurdles and get back to the negotiating table with a genuine desire to put an end to the decades’ long search for peace.

I would like to assure you, Mr. President, that Turkey’s strong commitment to peace and security in its region will continue until we reach that goal and Turkey will never shy away from its responsibilities.

Thank you.