TURKEY
 
 

REMARKS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY ISMAIL CEM MINISTER
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

 THE 56TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
 

NEW YORK,NY
12 NOVEMBER 2001

check against delivery
 Mr. President,
This meeting convenes at a most difficult hour. The terrorist attacks carried out in New York and Washington D.C., cast a deep sadness over this session of the General Assembly. But we must stand united, drawing the right conclusions from this catastrophe. September 11 has made it clear that terrorism is now humankind’s number one enemy, and that it must be dealt with utmost seriousness and determination.
We share the American nation’s grief and reiterate our full support to the U.S. Administration in its efforts to track down those responsible and bring them to justice. As a country that has lost so many of its citizens to terrorism, Turkey deeply feels the grief of this tragic event.
To combat terrorism efficiently and to develop a strong coalition of UN members against terrorism, certain principles should guide our collective effort:

1) Terrorism does not have a religion, geography and there can be no justification for terrorist acts under
any circumstances.

2) Using ‘double standards’ is the main obstacle to the fight against terrorism.

3) Terrorism is a global phenomenon

1) I will try to elaborate:

a) No ideal, no cause and no end can justify terrorism.

b) To identify terrorism with any religion is a sacrilege against all religions. We strongly condemn those who couple the name of a religion to define terrorism or terrorists. To fight this dangerous trend, we fully support all initiatives, which aim at dispelling such erroneous approaches. We commend the ongoing efforts of the U.N. and other initiatives in the same vein. In this context, Turkey has proposed an informal forum between members of or aspirants to the EU and OIC, for the discussion of issues pertaining to “Harmony of Civilizations”, in a political perspective. We have the initial support of the relevant organizations and several countries. We hope to realize this conference by February 2002.

c) Terrorism does not have a geography. What manifests itself in different countries, in the West and in the East, all over the world, is the “same terrorism”. The anti-terrorist struggle, to be serious and effective, has to be all encompassing and deal with all terrorist centers, activities, logistics, and address all countries that harbor and tolerate terrorism, or are indifferent to terrorist groups which incite or actively plan, finance or command terrorist operations that are executed in another’s country.

2) Being drawn into the trap of ‘double standards’ in defining terrorism or in dealing with it, is an inherent support for terrorism. Unfortunately, we have been witnessing several cases of double standards. I will try to give some examples:

There is a de facto distinction made in several countries’ conceptual approach, between ‘bad’ terrorists who work against that particular country, and the ‘tolerated’ terrorists, who, while enjoying a safe haven in the same country, incite, plan, finance and sometimes command terrorist acts in another. My country, as well as several others, has been a victim of this ‘double standard’ approach. Groups who claim to be the followers of whatever cause, openly advocate the use of terrorist means under pretexts of all sorts. Their activities and messages, which call for violence, sometimes assassination, are freely propagated, sometimes transmitted through the ‘legal’ media in their host countries. In short, acts and calls, which would draw immediate reaction if they were carried out by indigenous terrorists targeting their own country, are ‘ignored’, are ‘tolerated’ when they emanate from guest terrorists, aiming at their country of origin. This unfortunate distinction between terrorists that hurt others but not us, the prevailing double standards, have to be overcome if we are serious about fighting terrorism.

3) Terrorism is a global phenomenon that crosses borders and the fight against it requires effective international cooperation. We strongly support the resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly since September 11, condemning the terror attacks on the U.S. and calling for effective international action against the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these vile acts. Security Council Resolution 1373, in particular, provides a clear road map regarding the steps that need to be taken to combat terrorism more effectively. We hope that all member States will fully comply with this groundbreaking resolution. The establishment of the Counter-terrorism Committee to monitor implementation of Resolution 1373 is a major development.

We welcome the joint declarations by the EU of 14 and 21 September 2001. Turkey aligned herself with both. We expect their prompt and resolute implementation. EU is in the process of identifying terrorist organizations and their support networks. However, the list of terrorist organizations to be drawn up by the EU must not be restricted only to the geographical area of its members. It should definitely include those groups, which finance, plan and command terrorist activities in other countries.

There is a drastic need for vigilance and further cooperation between the relevant authorities, namely the justice and interior ministries of all countries. A radical change of attitude is imperative.
In order for it to be credible and effective, the anti-terror struggle has to be comprehensive and deal with all terrorist centers. In this respect, there is a need for increased cooperation particularly between the judicial and security bodies of all countries. It is also incumbent upon all U.N. member states to adopt the existing international legislation and to review their relevant national laws accordingly. We invite those States that have not yet done so, to become parties to the twelve international conventions on specific terrorist offenses. Turkey is party to ten of these conventions and has signed the remaining two, initiating ratification procedures for them.

International efforts to combat terrorism cannot be fully effective in the absence of a global convention in this field. The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, now under discussion at the Working Group established by the Sixth Committee, is our best chance to address this shortcoming. Although all participants have displayed remarkable flexibility, the Working Group has failed to resolve two central and interrelated issues; namely, the definition of terrorist offense and the exclusions from the scope of the Convention. Taking this opportunity, I wish to call upon all States to make an additional effort towards finalizing the Convention.

I have to add though that unless all countries display the same willingness, commitment and vigor in fulfilling their responsibilities, no amount of new conventions can bring us victory against terrorism.

In combating terrorism, we cannot ignore the fact that this scourge feeds on deteriorating social, economic and political conditions. Illiteracy, destitution, bigotry, racism, social and political injustice and similar sources of grievance all play a role in creating a fertile ground for terrorism. The gap between the richest and the least fortunate nations of the world keeps widening at an alarming pace. Threats like illegal mass migration, corruption, drug and arms smuggling, money laundering and other types of organized crime are on the increase.

It is our collective responsibility to bring lasting, viable solutions to these problems. Developing nations must focus on ways of achieving sustainable economic growth, improving income distribution, education, justice, and addressing other social needs. Developed nations must be more forthcoming in debt relief, increase development and humanitarian aid, and allow greater access to their markets.

As Secretary General Kofi Annan said in the Millennium Report, the central challenge faced by the international community is “to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people, instead of leaving billions of them in squalor.”

Today, the UN and its members face a mutual challenge. The name of this challenge is Afghanistan and it has two dimensions: To combat the terrorist network, which, by exploiting the Afghan people’s plight, has taken root in her geography; and, to support the revival of Afghanistan, of the Afghan identity, by ensuring peace, stability and economic development.

Turkey is resolutely committed to meet this challenge; she fully supports the efforts of the UN and of Special Representative Mr. Brahimi.

Turkey has worked together with the Afghan People starting from the 1920’s until the 1960’s; and resumed cooperation in the early 1990’s. We believe that concerted international action, with sound principles and effective means, is of crucial importance. I will try to elaborate on some suggestions:

1) It is the Afghan people who will rebuild their identity and their country. Our task is to assist and support their efforts. Not to dictate who will run their country, and how. In this respect, regional and tribal affinities should be encouraged to merge into a single Afghan identity and assume a secondary role as sub-cultures. This is capital for Afghanistan.

2) All countries, either neighboring, or involved in Afghanistan, should be discouraged from relying on particular Afghan groups as their primary ally and refrain from pursuing their special interests through those groups.

3) While the fight against terrorism and its supporters goes on, special care must be taken to ensure that innocent civilians are kept out of harm’s way. Comprehensive humanitarian support should be provided, organized and facilitated.

4) In regions and cities of Afghanistan freed from terrorists’ oppression, the UN and involved forces should immediately act to ensure security and relief. The success in providing for basic needs and displaying the ability to produce a better future will be paramount in expanding positive changes to other parts of the country. Setting a successful precedent would serve as the best catalysis.

5) Finally, everyone seems to agree that the future administration and government of Afghanistan should include all ethnicities. It should also encompass all political trends, which have not resorted to terrorism. In this process, overemphasizing or undermining the role of any particular group in the country can be counterproductive.

It is evident that in the process of rebuilding Afghan identity and Afghanistan, the UN has to play a leading role. It is the duty of each and every member of the UN to contribute to this gigantic task.

The Cyprus issue has remained unresolved for 38 years. This subject is one that is known to the UN. As the dates for some radical changes in Cyprus through Greek Cypriots side’s unilateral accession to the EU seem to be suggested and as Turkey considers these changes potentially dangerous for the two parties and for the whole region, this issue needs further attention. Any artificially imposed “solution” that is not mutually acceptable to both nations in the island and to the guarantor countries, is bound to create a severe crisis. Turkey, as well as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, aspire to a mutually acceptable solution, sought through all possible means.

1) A unilateral act by the Greek Cypriots, in violation of the 1959 – 1960 system, and pretending to represent both nations, contradicts the legal framework and the realities of Cyprus.

2) The legal and practical realities of Cyprus do not permit any party in the island to unilaterally decide to enter any international body of which both Turkey and Greece are not members; and any such decision has to be mutually taken by the two co-founders.

3) Through formal decisions of their parliaments and governments, both Turkey and the TRNC have declared that they will not accept any solution, which is not freely negotiated and mutually accepted. Both Turkey and the TRNC have also made it clear that they reject any such development, which would make the Turkish Cypriots a minority under Greek Cypriot rule. The Turkish Government will not allow the resurgence of a situation, which in 1964 and 1974 caused massive crimes committed against the Turkish Cypriots.

4) Turkey and the TRNC are for a solution based on the realities of the island. There are two distinct nations with a different religion, language and culture with two separate States and democracies in Cyprus. The confederation proposal of President Denktas deserves serious consideration. We also support the Secretary General’s good-offices mission and his efforts to start a new phase of talks. In order to succeed, this initiative should depart from a sufficient common ground.

5) Turkey welcomes the recent proposal by President Denktas to his Greek Cypriot counterpart, to get together, informally, without any preconditions, and to discuss all relevant issues in order to find a way forward. The refusal by the Greek Cypriot party is in no one’s interest.

Turkey is located in close proximity to many of the conflict spots and potential new threats that are high on the agenda of the U.N.  Accordingly, we are closely interested in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in our part of the world, particularly in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Long-term peace and stability in the Balkans requires the creation of a climate of confidence in the region. To avoid new tragedies, we must preserve the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural fabric of the Balkans. In this process, the rights and freedoms of the Balkan minorities as well as the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the relevant countries deserve equal respect.

In Macedonia, the Framework Agreement reached between the parties on August 13 provides a suitable basis for lasting peace. Turkey directly participates in the efforts aimed at preserving Macedonia’s stability and has provided troops to the NATO Task Force which supervised the disarmament process. In Kosovo, we contribute to the healing process through support for KFOR and UNMIK missions, as well as bilateral economic assistance. We hope that the November 17 elections will reinforce stability in Kosovo as well as in the region. Turkey will also remain engaged in Bosnia-Herzegovina through SFOR and International Police Task Force as well as bilateral aid mechanisms.

In my address to the General Assembly last year, I elaborated on the concrete benefits the Turkish-Greek rapprochement had brought for both sides. I am pleased to report that this atmosphere of friendship is still alive and well. We feel it is the joint responsibility of both countries to make the Aegean peace irreversible. To that end, we have been discussing a number of Confidence Building Measures in the Aegean. In addition, Turkey and Greece made a joint decision on April 6 to start the procedures that will make both sides parties to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition and Destruction of Anti-Personnel Mines. More recently, the two countries signed another agreement on establishing a joint unit to respond to natural disasters. I am pleased to report that Turkey and Greece have also agreed to introduce a joint Draft Resolution to the General Assembly on “Emergency Response to Disasters,” as a follow-up to the Assembly’s Resolution No. 54/30 of November 22, 1999 on the same subject. These steps show how far Turkish-Greek cooperation has come over the last few years.

On the other hand, we still have to resolve certain outstanding issues between the two countries, particularly regarding respective rights over the Aegean. We believe this is an achievable goal, provided that a spirit of dialogue and cooperation continues to be the driving force behind our relationship.

In the Middle East, the Peace Process is going through a sad but familiar episode of violence. Suicide attacks and disproportionate retaliation, both responsible for the mounting death toll, cannot be legitimized or approved under any pretext.

We believe a lasting and comprehensive settlement can only be built upon UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of land for peace. In this regard, the recommendations of the Sharm el Sheikh Fact Finding Committee provide the only window of opportunity and a suitable framework for reviving the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Turkey will continue its efforts with a view to facilitating the achievement of a breakthrough.

The question of Iraq also remains unresolved. We look forward to a speedy normalization of Iraq’s relations with the international community, based on compliance with relevant UN Resolutions. The international community must also provide Iraq with the right incentives, so that the Iraqi people can see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, it is essential that Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty be preserved.

While Turkey is a key country in enforcing the sanctions, we have also been seriously victimized alongside Iraq. Our net economic losses run into tens of billions of dollars and keep growing by the day. In this regard, we believe better use has to be made of Article 50 of the UN Charter, in order to minimize collateral damage to third parties.

The Caucasus is another area of close interest for Turkey. The region lies at the heart of giant trans-regional projects like the East-West Corridor and the Silk Road, which will connect Central Asia to Europe.

Unfortunately, a number of unresolved problems still delay the realization of the full promise of the Caucasus. The Nagorno-Karabagh dispute remains the single biggest impediment to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region. An early withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories is essential for making progress towards region-wide peace.

We also attach utmost importance to the preservation of Georgia’s stability and participate in the UNOMIG mission as well as the OSCE observer mission in that country. The Caucasian conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means and on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of these states. In this regard, we believe the Caucasus Stability Pact proposed by Turkey can be helpful in cultivating the necessary atmosphere of confidence in the region.

Along with all the newly independent states, Central Asian countries are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of their statehood this year. Through the past decade, these nations have consolidated their independence and made important strides in the field of economic and social development. The rich natural resources found in some of these countries will soon give Central Asia a prominent role in global affairs. Transportation of these resources to world markets through cost-effective and environmentally safe methods is now becoming a reality. As a transit country lying along their main export route, Turkey has a key role to play in this process.

Despite the positive outlook for Central Asia, these countries face serious challenges in their efforts to enhance their democracies and improve their economic structures. The most serious of these challenges is transboundary terrorism. We firmly support the Central Asian nations in their struggle against terrorism and their commitment to defend their freedom, independence and sovereignty.

Mr. President,
The tragedy of September 11 can be viewed as an omen of what can happen if the slightest carelessness is shown towards any of the old and new threats the world faces in the modern age  - be it terrorism, environment or poverty.
All I have said point to the need for the strong commitment of member countries to efforts aimed at the shaping of a better future. My words also point at the need to strengthen and streamline the United Nations, with all its principal organs. This General Assembly of 2001 is a meaningful link in the chain the international community has forged to meet the growing challenges of the new century. With realism and courage we will succeed.

Thank you.