Statement Delivered by The Republic of Turkey at the UNSC Open Debate on "The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question"

Y. Halit Çevik 15.01.2015
Mr. President,

Let me begin my words by congratulating the newly elected members of the Security Council and wishing them success.

The developments in the Middle East remain high on the global agenda and keep affecting Turkey in many ways. Palestinian question still lies at the heart of the challenges in the region and undermine the prospects for lasting regional and global peace and stability.

The situation in Palestine remains a major source of concern to us for both humanitarian and political reasons. The immediate needs of Palestine in general and Gaza in particular constitute a priority for the international community.

The situation in Gaza is still fragile and returning to the status quo is not an option. Further steps should be taken in order to sustain the current ceasefire. The Palestinian National Unity Government should operate in Gaza without any obstacle and the illegal blockade needs to be lifted.

Mr.President,

The need to find a negotiated political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on two states, living side by side in peace and security within the pre-1967 borders, and in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative remains an urgent priority. Palestinian unity is also imperative to reach a lasting solution. We should all support President Abbas and the Palestinian National Unity Government.

Israelis have been enjoying their statehood since 1948 whereas Palestinians have been denied such an inherent right for years. This historical injustice should be remedied. Further expansion of the illegal settlements, settler violence, arrests, forced displacement, house demolitions, excessive use of force against civilians, military raids and incursions, disrespectful and illegal acts targeting the Holy Sites, and attempts to change the historical status-quo of Al-Haram Al-Sharif demonstrate the insincerity of Israel about the peace process. We strongly condemn these provocative acts and will continue to voice our concern in the international fora.

It is time for the international community to renew its engagement to the solution of the problem. In this regard, we welcome Sweden’s recognition of the State of Palestine, and the resolutions taken by the European Parliament and national parliaments of some European countries. The ongoing positive trend in Europe demonstrate that it is no longer an option to maintain the status quo.

Having said this, we are disappointed by the recent failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a draft resolution that would pave the way for a solution. The Council missed another opportunity to fulfill its primary responsibility vis-à-vis the international peace and security.

The subsequent decision of accession by the State of Palestine to international conventions and protocols, including Rome Statute is a sovereign decision and should be respected. On the other hand, the decision of Israel to withhold the tax revenues of Palestine as a reaction to this step is unacceptable and runs counter to its obligations.

Turkey will continue its support to finding a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict and establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. We have reaffirmed our commitment to this vision during the President Abbas’ recent official visit to Turkey.

Mr. President,

Turkey is gravely concerned by the continuing deterioration of the situation in Syria. We increasingly feel the strain of the current state of chaos due to the grave humanitarian and security situation on the ground. Instability in the region and the DEASH in particular, continue to represent a national security threat for us.

As the crisis enters its fifth year, the international community shows signs of a “Syrian fatigue”. The focus is shifting from addressing the root causes of the crisis towards dealing with its side effects. In Syria, the régime, which takes advantage of the international community’s preoccupation with DEASH has significantly increased its attacks on cities and civilians. It tries to portray itself as a partner in the fight against DEASH and test the determination of the international community.

The extent and scope of destruction in Syria have been unprecedented. With each passing day, the humanitarian toll gets worse. The situation in the north of Syria, particularly in Aleppo, keeps deteriorating, which may lead to another large scale population influx. Three million Syrians are in neighboring countries. Half of those are in Turkey. In the face of the enormity of this challenge, I need to reiterate that an active and meaningful burden sharing is the collective responsibility of the international community.

The international community needs a comprehensive and coordinated strategy with political, security and humanitarian pillars, to reestablish stability in Syria. A comprehensive strategy to protect the population from the regime’s attacks and to accommodate large scale refugee movement is necessary.

Unless the international community makes the conflict in Syria a common priority and addresses the root cause of the problem through a comprehensive plan and a strategy to reach a genuine political transition, we will continue to undergo the threat of extremism and all kind of other problems in the region and elsewhere.

We will continue to support any endeavor to stop the bloodshed in Syria. In this regard, we support Special Representative De Mistura’s efforts.

From the security perspective of the matter, I also need to highlight that the destruction of the chemical stockpiles in Syria should not be perceived as accomplished. The international community and the Security Council should remain seized on the matter.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by reiterating that our strong commitment to the peace and security of the overall region and our full solidarity with the Palestinian people will continue.

Thank you.