Statement by Ambassador Rauf Engin Soysal, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr. Angelino Alfano (1171st -Special- Meeting of the Permanent Council)

Rauf Engin Soysal 11.01.2018

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Minister Alfano back to the Permanent Council, this time as the OSCE Chairman in Office. We thank you, Excellency, for your comprehensive, insightful and inspiring statement.

Mr. Minister, since your last appearance in July 2017 at this Council, the OSCE area remained shadowed by numerous challenges, a good part of which sadly carried over to 2018. The Italian Chairmanship’s motto “Dialogue, Ownership, Responsibility” offers a promising philosophy and frame of mind to tackle the problems besetting us. We welcome your intention to strengthen multilateralism as an instrument to relaunch the “spirit of Helsinki”, and to further promote peace, security, stability and cooperation.

It is indeed crucial to keep our Organization’s basic notions intact, particularly those of “security” and “cooperation” which appear in its name. The OSCE has regrettably strayed from these notions in the past few months. Affiliates of the FETO terrorist organization that staged the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, took part in OSCE meetings in these very halls. We simply cannot allow this severe abuse to continue.

Mr. Minister, this is a major flaw in our Organization. It needs to be remedied very urgently. We need to develop effective concrete rules to govern external participation in the OSCE’s meetings. It is our strong expectation from the Italian Chairmanship to concentrate on this matter and relieve the OSCE from this unacceptable situation.

Mr. Chairman,

The crisis in and around Ukraine continues to pose a formidable challenge to European security and stability. The Special Monitoring Mission and the Trilateral Contact Group have been performing in an outstanding manner. We must ensure the continuity of this through our constant unwavering support. This is also critical for the safety and security of the brave men and women who are in the field under demanding and constantly shifting conditions. We need to find a peaceful solution to this crisis based on Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, political unity and territorial integrity, including Crimea. We also remain concerned by the violation of minority groups’ human rights in Crimea, particularly those of the Crimean Tatars. We are pleased that the Italian Chairmanship will continue to accord priority to the settlement of the crisis.

We must also continue to focus on the settlement of protracted conflicts which, as suggested by their name, have persisted for too long. These conflicts undermine cooperation and damage our credibility. It is high time we made headway towards solving these conflicts within their existing formats. We reiterate Turkey’s readiness and willingness to contribute to any effort in this direction.

Mr. Chairman,

The Vienna Document, the CFE Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty remain the main pillars of Europe’s conventional security architecture. They represent legal and political commitments that need to be respected. Each of them has its own distinctive merits. They, therefore, cannot substitute one another. It also flows from this that efforts to update them should take place within their own individual mechanisms. Having said this, I wish to re-emphasize the fact that the Structured Dialogue process has not been conceived as an enterprise to replace Europe’s security architecture in conventional arms control. We, therefore, wish to see the Structured Dialogue proceed in 2018 in full conformity with its mandate.

Meanwhile, terrorism and other transnational crimes continue to threaten the OSCE geography and neighboring regions. We need to collectively fight not only DAESH, but also other terrorist organizations with equal and ever-increasing determination without distinctions.

As underlined in numerous documents, the security of the OSCE area is inextricably linked to the security and stability of the neighboring regions. We believe it is important to continue deepening our relations with our Mediterranean and Asian Cooperation Partners and further exploring the areas of cooperation. We welcome the Italian Chairmanship’s intention to emphasize this matter.

Another issue which we know is close to the heart of the new Chairmanship is the phenomenon of large movements of persons. Despite occupying a prominent place in our agenda for much time now, this issue has not been addressed in a cooperative manner based on empathy, solidarity and burden sharing. We are pleased that the Italian Chairmanship will focus on opportunities and challenges posed by large movements of people in a cross-dimensional and comprehensive manner. We expect the Chairmanship also to dedicate attention to the key notions which should shape our policies on this matter.

Mr. Chairman,

We welcome the Italian Chairmanship’s priorities in the second dimension. Promoting economic progress and security through innovation, human capital, good governance and the transition towards renewable energy are all areas that offer much potential for cooperation and development. I wish to re-emphasize Turkey’s strong support for and eagerness to contribute to the OSCE’s second dimension activities.

Regarding the third dimension, we very much welcome the special attention the Italian Chairmanship intends to dedicate to fighting intolerance and discrimination. We observed with much concern and regret last year, a growing lenience towards racist and xenophobic rhetoric and actions in vast swaths of the OSCE area. This harbors much nefarious potential to threaten the well-being and harmony of our societies. Furthermore, as third dimension issues are all intrinsically interlinked, we must avoid setting up artificial hierarchies between and among various elements within this dimension.

I would be amiss if I do not refer to two issues dear to us, just as to other participating states: Turkey will continue supporting the OSCE’s work in the areas of women and youth empowerment, as well as in mediation.

Our agenda is both full and daunting. Yet, our hopes and expectations from the Italian Chairmanship are high. This is further reinforced by the indications we have received that the Italian Chairmanship intends, perhaps through the “pomodoro method” conceived by an illustrious Italian, to make better use of time in our deliberations, which would constitute a splendid and revolutionary development in itself.

Finally, Mr. Minister, we wish you and your able teams in Rome and Vienna the greatest success in 2018. The Chairmanship’s success is ultimately our own. That is why you may rest assured of our full support to you.

Thank you.