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

Levent Eler 23.07.2015

Mr. President,

The situation across the Middle East continues to be a grave concern for all of us. Terrorism, violence and humanitarian crises have escalated and engulfed millions of innocent people in the region. The peace, security and stability of the entire region and beyond are at stake.

In the face of this grim reality, we must maintain our focus on the urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which still undermines the prospects for lasting regional and global peace.Failing to do so will further destabilize the region and lead to more extremism.

One year on from the unprecedented suffering caused by the IDF offensive, little to no recovery or reconstruction has taken place in Gaza. The military operation coupled with the illegal blockade imposed on Gaza, have led to chronic, wide spread and systematic violations of human rights, above all the right to life and security, as underlined by the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Gaza. People who live in tremendous despair and insecurity, are losingtheir belief in the possibility of a solution and peaceful coexistence. The current situation is unsustainable and will only further disenfranchise the Palestinian people. The international community cannot afford anymore to stand idle by this tragedy.

While the immediate priority must be to address the grave situation and growing frustration in Gaza, only long term solutions can change the tide in Gaza’s reconstruction. The continuous illegal blockade and other restrictions must be lifted in accordance with Resolution 1860 of the Security Council. Further steps should be taken to alleviate the dire situation, to sustain the current ceasefire and to support the efforts of the National Unity Government to operate in Gaza. On this occasion, we also would like to highlight the alarming financial challenge that UNRWA is facing today and the importance of providing sustained support to the Agency as a contributor to stability in the region.

Mr. President,

The need to find a negotiated political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, achieving a two-state solution and ending the longest occupation in modern history in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative remain to be urgent priorities. There is a broad international consensus on the unsustainability and unacceptability of the status quo. The trend in Europe toward the recognition of the State of Palestine is a reflection of this frustration.

The historical injustice against the Palestinian people, reinforced by daily illegal practices of Israel on the ground is fuelling hatred, alienation and radicalism in the region and beyond. It is our sincere hope that reason prevails and Israel engages with the peace process in a sincere and result oriented manner. Israel should demonstrate its commitment to a two-state solution. This is the only viable option for sustainable peace and security.

Palestinian unity is also imperative to reach a lasting solution. In this respect, we should all support the Palestinian National Unity Government and its efforts to further the reconciliation.

It is high time for the international community to renew its engagement for the solution of the problem. We need to intensify our efforts towards the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution setting a timeframe and parameters for peace negotiations based on the two-state peace vision. The Council should assume its primary responsibility vis-à-vis the international peace and security.

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.

Mr. President,

The Syrian crisis has become a constant factor of instability and immense human suffering for the entire region and beyond. While the international community’s continuing silence on these developments is worrying, a collective response that will address the magnitude of this threat still remains to be lacking. One should keep in mind that no country is immune to this acute crisis as its impacts are ranging from terrorism to displacement and devastation. The regime is responsible for this chaos. It chose to wage a war against the people, instead of meeting their legitimate demands.

What is happening in Syria is not and has never been about terrorism. It is about the legitimate demands and democratic aspirations of Syrians who are together waging a struggle for survival and their future. This simple fact, and the root cause of the current crisis, which is the regime’s relentless brutality towards its own people should not be forgotten.

Turkey, the biggest refugee hosting country in the world, is gravely concerned by the humanitarian and security impacts of the crisis, with an unprecedented devastation. In the light of the enormity of this challenge, I need to reiterate that a meaningful and genuine burden sharing is the collective responsibility of the international community. It is neither possible nor just to expect from Turkey to face the migratory pressures or the risks and threats emanating from Syria alone, as we have recently witnessed during the clashes in Ayn-al Arab/Kobani and Tel Abyad.

The international community has still not envisaged a comprehensive strategy with political, security and humanitarian pillars, to re-establish stability in Syria. We must focus on addressing the underlying causes of the problem through resolute action. The regime’s indiscriminate attacks should not be overshadowed by the appalling actions of DAESH. It is also important to express outrage at use of barrel bombs and increase of chlorine attacks by the regime forces, as it was emphasized in the letter dated 18 June, addressed to the UNSC, UNSG and PGA and signed by 71 countries.

We believe there is no military solution to the conflict. Territorial integrity of Syria is of utmost importance. Peace and stability can only be reinstated in Syria through a genuine and comprehensive political transition, based on the Geneva Communiqué through the establishment of a “transitional governing body” with authority to exercise full executive powers. In this framework, we support the mission of UN Special Representative De Mistura and his bilateral consultations initiative. We cannot afford losing further time in search of alternatives while the parameters of the solution are clearly defined in the Communiqué and endorsed by this august body.

We also would like to highlight our support to the Iraqi Government in its fight against DAESH and express our concern about the rise of sectarian motivated attacks against the civilians. In this regard, implementation of inclusive policies to end the alienation of some segments of the society and enhancement of efforts for national reconciliation would be key for Iraq’s stability.

Mr. President,

Last but not least, let me express our support to the efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, which could be only possible through peaceful dialogue and reconciliation. The parameters to achieve this goal are clear: The Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the National Dialogue Outcomes and the UNSC Resolution 2216.

Yemen should not become another showcase of the damage inflicted by sectarian policies in the region. The only way to contain, if not end, the turmoil in Middle East is a collective effort and ownership by regional actors to engage in dialogue. Yemen is no exception to that. With this understanding, an OIC Contact Group on Yemen was established upon our proposal with the aim of contributing to the political solution.

We are also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and will do our utmost to continue our assistance to the population in need.

Mr. President,

Some recent developments demonstrated once again the supremacy of diplomacy and gave us hope about the possibility of finding solution to protracted crises. In this regard, we welcome the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as well as the adoption of the UNSC Resolution 2231.

The initialing of the “Libyan Political Agreement” is also a promising first step towards a comprehensive solution with the participation of all parties to the political dialogue, and establishment of a Government of National Accord.

Mr. President,

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

Thank you.