Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to H.E. Andrii Deshchytsia, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at the 990th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İLDEM 20.03.2014
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine back to the Permanent Council in his new important capacity. He has our best wishes and full support in these challenging times. We thank him for the valuable information he has provided concerning the latest developments in his country.

At the outset I will reiterate the fundamentals of our position vis-à-vis the ongoing crisis: Turkey believes that the only proper way out lies with a peaceful diplomatic solution based on respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity, in line with norms and principles of international law, and OSCE commitments.

My Government therefore deems the so-called referendum held in Crimea on 16 March as both illegal and illegitimate. Turkey does not recognize any de facto situation arising from either the result of the so-called referendum, or any steps taken in its wake. These shall enjoy no legal validity from my country’s standpoint. Turkey considers Crimea to be part of our strategic partner and neighbor Ukraine.

Within this framework, I wish to emphasize yet again our special sensitivity and concern for the security and well-being of the Crimean Tatar minority in their homeland in Ukraine. The High Commissioner for National Minorities, Ms. Astrid Thors, pointed out when addressing us here at the Council last week how the Crimean Tatars are in a position of increased vulnerability. Speaking before the Human Dimension Committee the day before yesterday, Ms. Thors further conveyed her concern regarding a climate of fear and intimidation against non-majority groups, including the Tatars, in Crimea. She pointed to signs that hatred is being instigated between groups in the Peninsula.

We have learned with great sorrow that the Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov, who had recently disappeared in Crimea, fell victim to an act of murder. We expect that this murder, which has aroused the indignation of Turkish public opinion and especially of our citizens of Crimean Tatar descent, will be clarified as soon as possible and that the perpetrators will be arrested and brought to justice.

Recent incidents referred to in the European Union’s statement as well show us the alarming situation on the ground. It is difficult, if not impossible, to chart a healthy course of action while hearing differing versions of what is happening in Ukraine. It is therefore essential to objectively and accurately establish the facts on the ground. We have already lost much precious time in this endeavor. In other terms, we need to deploy a Monitoring Mission without further delay.

The Monitoring Mission will also contribute to de-escalation and confidence-building. A constructive dialogue to arrive at a Permanent Council decision commanding consensus for this purpose would also add much needed fresh vigor to our Organization. This has unfortunately not been the case so far. Many have voiced their concerns over this impasse. We share these concerns. At this time, I will simply emphasize once again that our current inability to act and react has negative effects on multiple fronts.

Mr. Chairperson,

All these will not, however, prevent me from again strongly voicing our opinion that we must continue unabatedly to seek a solution. The Helsinki Final Act was drafted, and our Organization founded, for times like these. It is not too late to work together in a spirit of cooperation. Let us do so by upholding our commitments for a true meaning of engagement.

In concluding, I would like to once again thank Acting Minister Deshchytsia, whose presence and address here today should serve to heighten our sense of urgency and responsibility.

Thank you.