STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. FERİDUN SİNİRLİOĞLU,MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE ON “SETTLEMENT OF CONFLICTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA AND COUNTERING THE TERRORIST THREAT IN THE REGION”
H.E. Feridun Sinirlioğlu 30.09.2015
For centuries, the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa lived together in peace and harmony, regardless of race, religion, language, sect or ethnicity.
They did so and flourished, politically, economically, socially and intellectually, always with a sense of shared destiny, all the while embracing their differences as a perpetual source of wealth and not weakness.
Today’s reality differs dramatically from that history and the region is confronted with many complex challenges.
Sectarian and divisive policies, brutal oppression of legitimate demands for democracy, unresolved conflicts resulting in mass displacements, coupled with feelings of resentment due to growing discrimination and xenophobia in other parts of the world, have combined to create a breeding ground for violent extremism and terrorism.
We should be clear on two points:
First, terrorism and extremism are not a Middle Eastern/North African phenomenon. Terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.
Second, no region in the world is immune to violence today. Terrorism is a global and transnational phenomenon, which needs to be addressed through effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
That being said, terrorist groups such as DEASH cannot be defeated without addressing the root causes that created it. DEASH is an overriding national security threat for Turkey, together with other terrorist organizations like the PKK and DHKP-C which operate in the same environment.
Since its creation, while many other partners struggled to understand the threat, Turkish authorities spared no effort to counter DEASH.
Currently, we have been carrying out joint air operations against DEASH targets, as part of the International Coalition, which brings together more than 60 countries.
While fighting DEASH, we should harbor no illusions about the conditions that led to its rise. DEASH did not suddenly, spontaneously appear out of nowhere and spread like a cancer, on its own. It was aided and abetted by the politically defunct, totalitarian Assad regime that, in its desperate drive to retain power at all cost, deployed any means available to it, including chemical weapons and barrel bombs, to kill, maim, oppress and otherwise terrorize its own people into submission.
The suppression of the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, divisive sectarian policies and the war crimes and massive violations of human rights that were committed without impunity by the Assad regime have combined to create fertile ground for radicalization, extremism and the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters by DEASH. In fact, it was through the tactical cooperation and operational air support by the terrorist Assad regime that enabled DEASH’s rapid expansion in Syria.
The reprehensible methods and actions of DEASH should not confuse us about what we should prioritize as we move forward. The international community and the UNSC need to address the root cause of the problem in Syria, through resolute action.
Here are the main parameters of a comprehensive strategy for a way forward.
First we must do all we can to downgrade and defeat terrorist organizations like DEASH, PKK DHKPC and their kind. There can be no room for moral relativism in the fight against terror.
Second, we need to create safe areas in Syria that is cleared from DEASH; where protection will be provided to civilian population against attacks from the air. Such zones, if implemented with determination can keep Syrians in Syria, lead to a voluntary return of refugees and encourage people to believe again in a stable future of their country.
Third, we should all work for a solution to the conflict that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people, and ensures a managed and orderly transition to a real political change.
The political process we should vitalize would lead to a united, democratic, secular, non-sectarian, multicultural Syria, without Assad.
An outcome based on these principles will be the best guarantee to reverse the tide of extremism and eradicate once and for all the terrorist threat that Syria has become home to.
In Iraq, the government needs to be supported with the challenges it faces. And the Iraqi Government must effectively embrace all segments of society.
In Libya, national reconciliation and the formation of a national unity government would be the most effective response to terrorism and all other scourges.
We cannot ignore the plight of the Palestinians who are living under occupation. We need to keep in mind that the historical injustice against the Palestinian people is fuelling hatred, alienation and radicalism, across the region.
It is time for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two-state vision without further delay.
Despite all challenges, we are confident that the proud peoples of the Middle East and North Africa will succeed in their efforts to revitalize their deep-rooted culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.