Turkey stands steadfast against terrorism

| January 5, 2015 | 0 Comments
Aleppo, Syria, has seen widespread destruction.

Aleppo, Syria, has seen widespread destruction.

Turkey is at the centre of rapid changes and transformations unfolding in the Middle East and Eurasia basin. Unprecedented rapid developments along our southeastern and northern borders have resulted in far-reaching consequences for international peace, security and stability. And they all affect Turkey directly. Turkey does not only bear a huge humanitarian burden for people of the region who have suffered from the crises, it also plays a role with its pro-active and principled foreign policy in international efforts to reinstitute stability in the region.
The escalation of the crisis in Ukraine affected the stability of the entire Black Sea region and had serious implications, as well, for global principles of confidence and co-operation. Turkey has close historical, political and economic ties to Ukraine, our neighbour and strategic partner. The situation in the south and the east of the country as well as the homeland of our kinsmen, the Crimean Tatar Turks, continues to be a serious concern for Turkey.
Turkey’s position on Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis has been clear. We support the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of Ukraine and do not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The independence and political unity of Ukraine must be preserved and respected. A lasting solution to the current crisis can only be reached on the basis of territorial integrity of Ukraine within international law, through diplomacy.

The Tatar Turks
The security and well-being of 300,000 Crimean Tatar Turks is also a high priority for Turkey. Having experienced, for more than half a century, the difficulties of exile that began on May 18, 1944 in Soviet Russia, Crimean Tatar Turks began to return to their historic homeland in 1989, to live in peace and freedom. Returning to and resettling in their homeland were not easy. Today,
unfortunately, the indigenous Crimean Tatar people are under growing pressure from the de facto local authorities.
Respecting the rights and freedoms of the Tatar community and allowing Crimean Tatar Mejlis to function freely is essential for the preservation of peace and stability on the peninsula.
Turkey actively supported the efforts and is working closely with international organisations such as the OSCE on the situation in Ukraine. An experienced former Turkish diplomat, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, has been the chief monitor of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine since April 2014. Their work is providing a substantial contribution.
A solution can only be reached within international law and commitments emanating from international agreements, via dialogue and consensus. Turkey will continue its efforts for a diplomatic solution to this crisis, both at multilateral platforms and on a bilateral basis.

Developments in Syria
On our southern borders, developments in Syria and Iraq are a big concern on many levels, first and foremost for our national security. Turkey’s border with Syria and Iraq is 1,295 kilometres long. The situation has turned into a single theatre of war. Syrian conflict and political instability in Iraq have created a power vacuum and provided suitable ground for extremist groups such as ISIL (hereafter referred to as DAESH). However, this conflict is not limited to the rise of extremism. It needs a broader reading of the situation to find a viable and lasting solution to the crisis in the region. Increasing threats, risks and dangers emanating from Syria cannot be stopped unless a political transition takes place in Syria. Likewise, the threat of extremism should be handled with a comprehensive strategy.
In this sense, transition of power, protection of territorial integrity and encouragement of a constitutional, parliamentary system that embraces all citizens are main elements of Turkey’s policy vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict. We have publicly declared that Turkey won’t remain silent against oppression of any ethnic or religious group.
Refugee relief
Calls for Turkish military intervention in the face of attacks on Ayn-Al Arab (Kobani) are contradictory since a quarter of a million Syrians were massacred in their towns and more than 6.5 million people have been displaced since the beginning of the crisis.
The number of Syrians hosted by Turkey has exceeded 1.6 million. More than 1.4 million Syrians who live outside the 22 camps are also under Turkey’s temporary protection regime. We spent more than US $5 billion, including cross-border aid. However, contributions received so far from the international community are far from the lowest expectations. Resettlement figures for Syrians reflect the same trend.
The sustained conflict in Syria, with repercussions in Iraq, has recently provoked another mass flow of refugees to Turkey. That is why 200,000 additional Syrians, mostly from border areas, found refuge in Turkey in October. An additional 100,000 Iraqis came in because of the threat of DAESH in Iraq.
Likewise, we have extended humanitarian assistance to Ayn Al-Arab (Kobani) since the first day of clashes. Recent developments cannot be read separately from the developments in Syria as a whole. Judging a conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 lives only through the developments in Ayn Al-Arab is not sensible. In October, we dispatched more than 700 trucks of humanitarian assistance to the area, worth more than US $10 million.
The motion adopted at the Turkish Grand National Assembly gave broad authority to the Turkish government to instruct the Turkish Armed Forces to take all necessary measures in the period ahead. It is a clear reflection of Turkey’s determination. Any further involvement should be designed to meet our expectations for a comprehensive strategy to resolve the Syrian conflict. It needs also to address political and humanitarian dimensions.

The fight against terrorism
In this vein, Turkey’s experience in the fight against terrorism is well known by the international community. We have suffered extensively from the scourge of terrorism; we have been, and still are, targets for al-Qaeda and other radical terrorist organisations. That’s why international co-operation is the basis of Turkey’s approach to the fight against terrorism. To that end, we co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters that calls upon member states to do their part to eradicate terrorism.
It is worth repeating that the ideology promoted by groups such as ISIS does not enjoy grassroots support among the Turkish people. On the contrary, the Turkish model of a democratic, secular and open society with a predominantly Muslim population is at odds with the philosophy and aim of these radical movements.
This makes Turkey a natural target for such radical groups. This was seen in the 2003 terrorist bombings in Istanbul and the Al-Shabaab attack at the Turkish Embassy in Somalia that killed a Turkish security officer and wounded many others. The armed attack in May 2014 in Mogadishu (al-Shabaab), the brutal attack against our security forces within Turkey in Niğde in March 2014 (DAESH), the raid on the Turkish consulate general in Mosul in June 2014 by DAESH militants who detained 46 staff, are three  concrete examples of the direct and serious threat these groups pose to  Turkey’s national security.
It is, therefore, totally out of the question for Turkey to tolerate these groups, let alone give them support.

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Category: Diplomatica

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