Peace at home, peace in the world

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Remarks by Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey at the Geneva II Conference, Montreux, 22 January 2014

Mr. Secretary-General,
Dear Colleagues,
Distinguished Participants,

First, let me thank UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and Special Joint Envoy Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi for their tireless efforts in convening this conference as well as the Government of Switzerland for its kind and generous hospitality.

I would also like to commend the United States and the Russian Federation for their initiative to revitalize the Geneva process.

We owe a special tribute to the true representatives of the Syrian people who have demonstrated their commitment for a political solution by courageously taking part in this gathering despite their agony.

Just three days ago, in Urfa, I visited, together with Mr Guterres, UNHCR, and fellow ministers from the neighboring countries of Syria, one of the container cities we built for the Syrians who had to flee their country.

I met a baby girl named Nour. She was born just a day ago, in Kökenli container city, away from homeland. She was just one of 8458 Syrian babies born, as of yesterday, in the shelters in Turkey.

Like every new-born baby, she was crying a lot. But, her tears would not stop as she grows up unless she has the opportunity to lead a dignified life in security and prosperity in her own country.

I met another Syrian girl at the hospital in Urfa. Her right leg was amputated to save her life. She was waiting for her prosthesis to be fixed. Her dreams for future were ruined.

These girls were among the 700 thousand "terrorists" we are hosting in our country and 8500 children "terrorists" born on our territories.

Yes there are some other 2 million "terrorists" found shelter in different countries.

Yes, there are 5 million displaced "terrorists" in Syria seeking food and refuge.

Yes, more "terrorists" are struggling to survive in Syria under the brutality of the regime.

Yes cities were bombed from the air by barrel bombs and Scud missiles, because they were "terrorist" cities.

Yes, "terrorists" fired Scud missiles, devastated entire neighbourhoods with heavy artillery, barrel bombs and killed people with chemical weapons.

We all know who the terrorists in Syria are. I wonder how the representatives of the regime think that they can deceive the entire international community with their lies?

I don’t even intend to say anything in response to those who are so shameless after all their heinous crimes against their own people.

History will judge them very badly.

Today, we are talking about human lives and human dignity. We did not come here to make a diplomatic scenery. The objective of this conference is to save the destiny of new born refugee Nour and her generation.

However, what we see in Syria is ruthlessness. People are oppressed with impunity. What is happening in this country is a shame on humanity.

The conflict in Syria has taken so far more than 150 thousand lives. This number doesn't include those missing or held prisoners at the hands of the regime subjected to torture and starvation. A generation has been lost, economic infrastructure as well as the cultural heritage of Syria have been severely ruined.

Sectarianism is on the rise due to the policies of the regime and threatens the security and stability of our region.

More than 2 million of Syrians, mainly women and children, have left their homelands and sought refuge in the neighboring countries desperately praying for the day to return. In Turkey, we host around 700 thousand Syrians.

Millions of civilians in Syria are deprived of their basic requirements such as food and medicine; tens of thousands of them are forced to make a choice between surrendering and waiting to die under systematic sieges.

Starvation is used as a weapon of war. These inhumane practices must be brought to an end immediately and should not go unpunished.

All kinds of crimes and flagrant violations of human rights as documented by the UN have unfortunately been the hallmark of the recent past in Syria.

Worst of all, even as we speak, such crimes continue unabated. We remain speechless in the face of the well documented evidence of the terrible fate of 11.000 Syrians.

“It is very rare to have this kind of government-backed, industrial machine-like; systematic torture and killing of human beings, the likes of which we have not seen since Nuremberg” said David Crane who was the chief prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, about the photo evidence of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the regime.

This atrocity clearly amounts to a crime against humanity and those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity must be held accountable.

There may be some that are trying to ignore such horrific images. Almost two decades ago some also tried to ignore the massacres in Srebrenica. However, they were not able to delete the impact of these images from the minds and from the consciences. Just as the perpetrators of the crimes committed in Srebrenica, those responsible for the crimes and atrocities in Syria will face justice.

How long can international community continue to look the other way while such carnage goes on in full view? How long will the international community hold back while so many Syrians lose their lives each day at the hands of the regime in Damascus?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkey believes in a political solution for the conflict in Syria. We now have a momentous occasion. We believe that this conference marks the start of a process offering an invaluable opportunity to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people. We wish that all stakeholders, inside and outside Syria, would seize this opportunity.

For this; we all need to remember the basic parameters which brought us here:

1. Our common objective, as declared by the UN Secretary-General, is to ensure full implementation of the Geneva Communique adopted on 30 June 2012 by the Action Group on Syria.

2. It is true that the today's conference or Geneva II initiative is not an event itself, but rather a mechanism to bring peace to Syria. From now on, one life lost is too many. Therefore, the process that is being initiated here today can not be an open ended one.

3. The Geneva Communique, which this conference will aim to implement, is about political change. The recipe for such a change already finds its place in the communique; that is the establishment, by mutual consent, of a Transitional Governing Body with full executive powers including all security and intelligence entities. Any attempt to dilute or divert this ultimate goal must be unequivocally rejected at the outset.

4. A leader and his close associates that have lost their legitimacy and capability to exercise authority in the country and those who have blood in their hands cannot stay.

5. No one must be allowed to exploit this exercise for individual agendas or taking more lives. Any attempt to employ delaying tactics and exploit the process for clinging to power must not be tolerated.

6. The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian State must be preserved. The future Syria must be democratic, pluralistic, and respectful of human rights and of the rule of law in which every citizen must enjoy full equality before the law regardless of their religious or ethnic background.

In view of these parameters, I invite all the parties to act responsibly, taking the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people as the guiding principles and to start a meaningful transition process to build a strong and democratic Syria.

The strength of Syria will be our strength. A Syria living at peace with its neighbours will ensure our security.

Syria belongs to Syrians. The Syrian people will achieve the democracy and defeat tyranny. A brighter future is awaiting the Syrian people. Turkey stands with them in this journey.

Thank you.