Y. Halit Çevik 26.01.2016

Mr. President,

The Middle East is more unstable and unpredictable than at any time in recent history. However, the proliferation of the crises in the wider region must not distract us from the urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict, which remains a core challenge.

The continuing Israeli occupation and its practices in contravention of international law, such as the recent decision of land appropriation in West Bank hamper efforts towards permanent peace. The expansion of illegal settlements, denying the Palestinians’ right to use natural resources, arbitrary arrests, suppression of freedom of association and assembly, excessive use of force, as well as the efforts which aim at undermining the Islamic status and sanctity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif must immediately stop.

Situation in Gaza also remains worrying. The international community cannot afford to stand idle to the tragedy of 1.8 million people suffering under an inhumane blockade for 9 years. Israel should respond to the continuous calls and lift the siege on the Strip in order to allow the Gazans to build their livelihoods.

Mr. President,

The historical injustice against the Palestinian people, reinforced by illegal practices of Israel on the ground is fuelling hatred, alienation and radicalism in the region and beyond. To the extent the Palestinian people lack hope, their reaction grows. The only way out of this impasse is to convince the Palestinians that their future will be better than today, that they will be sitting at the negotiation table as the State of Palestine with equal standing with Israel.

We all agree that the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. The international trend toward the recognition of the State of Palestine is a reflection of this frustration. The recent decision by the EU regarding the labeling of the settlement products and raising of the Palestinian flag at the UN Headquarters are steps in the right direction.

Needless to say, the root cause of the problem is the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories by Israel. In this regard, the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital is the only viable solution. The Security Council should also assume its primary responsibility vis-à-vis the international peace and security.

Mr. President,

The situation in Syria today is the greatest disaster that we have encountered since World War II.

As a neighboring country, Turkey is extremely concerned by the humanitarian and security impacts of the crisis, which constitutes a major national security threat. In this regard, we maintain our resolute stance in the fight against terrorism, without making a distinction between the terrorist organizations.

We are at a critical turn in Syria. The crisis can only be overcome by a political solution. The work of the International Syria Support Group and the subsequent adoption of the UNSC Resolution 2254 accelerated the efforts to revitalize the political process. The political process should lead to a transition period with concrete timelines, new constitution and elections.

In the meantime, the Council should ensure the implementation of all the measures, including those related to nationwide ceasefire and humanitarian field outlined in its very own Resolution 2254. The Syrian people can only regain faith in the international community if they see improvement of humanitarian conditions on the ground. The tragic stories of starvation and death in the besieged town of Madaya are just the latest examples of violations of the most fundamental principles of international law.

The regime’s brutal policies and indiscriminate attacks against its own population as well as the recent airstrikes by its allies targeting civilians and moderate opposition under the pretext of fighting DAESH must stop. Such attacks not only undermine the prospects of a political solution, but also contribute to the worsening of the scourge of terrorism.

The moderate opposition cannot be expected to negotiate under fire. In addition, they should be entitled to designate their own representatives. Non-intervention by third parties to the composition of the opposition negotiation team is a must for the credibility and sustainability of the process. Attempts to dilute and weaken the opposition will only harm the process even before it starts.

The current tragedy will not end unless the people of Syria have a legitimate government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. On that score, the Syrian people have already spoken. Now, it is time for us, the members of the ISSG, to prepare the ground for a real process that will lead to a genuine political change.

Mr. President,

Syria’s security is also linked to international community’s efforts to counter DAESH in Iraq. A lasting victory against DAESH can only be achieved if coupled with an inclusive strategy.

We welcome the recent progress by the Iraqi army and the liberation of Ramadi. However, it is important to consolidate these gains and increase the capability of Iraqi Forces. In this regard, we would like to reiterate our commitment to support Iraq in its efforts to fight DAESH.

Mr. President,

Some recent developments demonstrated once again the merits of diplomacy. In this regard, we welcome the announcement on the attainment of the ‘Implementation Day’ of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

In addition, the signing of the “Libyan Political Agreement” and step towards the establishment of the Libyan Government of National Accord are also promising for the re-establishment of security and stability in Libya. We have affirmed our full support to the future Libyan Government, during the visit of Libya Prime Minister Designated Mr. Fayez Al-Sarraj on 11 January 2016 to Ankara. We stand ready to respond to future requests of the Government of National Accord.

Thank you.