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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, at the 53rd session of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), 19 February 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are not living in an easy world today. In America, in Europe, in other parts of the world, we have so many challenges that our societies are really worried about. But our region – I think we all agree – is the most difficult one. Today the Middle East faces a multitude of security challenges. These include civil wars, terrorism, sectarianism and violent extremism.

The Palestinian problem is one of them. We believe that the best solution is the two-state solution. The two-state solution is so important to end the 50 years of occupation of the Palestinian territories. This is a major problem for peace and security of the whole region – not only in Israel and Palestine. So we should focus on the two-state solution. Unfortunately each and every new Israeli settlement diminishes the hopes for a viable political solution. The preservation of the status of Jerusalem and particularly the Haram al-Sharif is important for the entire Islamic world. Israel should recognize the relevance of the Arab Peace Initiative and step into a new harmony with its neighbors. It’s good that now we are normalizing our relations with Israel. I’m sure Turkey will now have the possibility to contribute more to the Middle East Peace Process.

We have been following all together the conflict in Syria. What do we have to do now in Syria? First, we need to consolidate the cease-fire. Together with Russia and sometimes with the support of Iran, we made a lot of achievements. We evacuated 45 thousand people from Aleppo. We started the political process: the Astana talks were important – they were a confidence building measure. But now we need to resume the Geneva talks which are the main basis for the political solution and the political transition. This is the best solution for the country. The political solution is also essential for a more effective fight against DEASH and other terrorist organizations – this is one of the other problems in Syria. We need to defeat the terrorist organizations in Syria all together. So the Geneva Communique and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 are the basis for the talks and the solution in Syria.

So how are we going to defeat DAESH in Syria and Iraq? This is the main question. I think with a better strategy and the right groups we can easily defeat this terrorist organization. And together we need to kill the ideology of this terrorist organization – they have nothing to do with Islam. Islam means peace. So the Euphrates Shield Operation that we have been conducting together with the right groups – with local groups – is a good example of how to defeat DEASH in Syria. But we need to defeat DEASH in Iraq as well. We need to support the Iraqi government in its fight. This is also very critical. We do support Iraq in its campaign against DEASH. That’s why we have two bases there–upon the initial invitation of the Iraqi authorities, by the way. So, defeating DEASH in Iraq with the right groups is, again, important. But the Iraqi authorities should also consider the concerns of the local people, particularly those of the isolated ones during the al-Maliki administration. Unless we regain the confidence of these discriminated people, the terrorists will find a fertile ground in Iraq.

Therefore, we should pay more attention. For instance, the PKK presence in Iraq is an example. The PKK is a direct security threat for Turkey, Iraq and the Kurdish regional government. The fight against DEASH shouldn’t be a legitimizing factor for the PKK or its affiliates in Syria. In Syria, does the YPG fight DEASH for the unity of Syria? No, on the contrary: they are fighting DEASH to gain more territory and also for their own agenda to create an independent state or canton. We cannot tolerate any terrorist canton or state in the northern part of Syria and Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The situation in Yemen is also a source of concern for us. Unfortunately, the UN mediated peace talks have not yielded the desired outcome. But we are still hopeful. The GCC initiative, outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the UN Security Council Resolution 2216 could be a good basis for a peaceful solution in Yemen.

Finally, Libya. You know we made mistakes in Iraq while the US was leaving Iraq. We also made mistakes in Libya twice. First, we went there and immediately after Kaddafi was killed, we left them alone. Then, we had them sign an agreement. Around 20-24 countries gathered together to convince them and to support them. Immediately after they signed the agreement, for the second time we left them alone. Now this country is facing a lot of problems including terror. Some of the neighboring countries are supporting different groups for their own interests. But together we should support the interests of the Libyan people. Of course we are hopeful now because there is a political document that we all together supported. And the Presidential Council finally has got the financial means so that they can provide more electricity. Also, this budget is important to tackle unemployment, maintain hospitals and security. Turkish companies are building power stations to supply electricity to the Libyan people. Turkish Airlines will start its flights to Tripoli in the future. Recently, we reopened our embassy. Italy has also opened its embassy. I will encourage other countries to do the same.

Let me conclude with a warning against sectarian policies and discrimination in the Middle East. These will only worsen the current crisis. For a sustainable solution, the region needs inclusive perspectives, greater sense of regional ownership - this is very important – and cooperation and solidarity.

Thank you.