STATEMENT ON NEW REFUGEES FROM THE SYRIAN TOWN OF KESEB

Written Statement 06.04.2014
Turkey’s security concerns emanating from and humanitarian assistance to those affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria have been underlined on numerous occasions in detail at the OSCE and other international fora.

As stated during our intervention at the Permanent Council on 27 March 2014, the deteriorating security situation in Northwestern Syria, particularly at the town of Keseb, led Turkish authorities to contact the relevant UN agencies to inform them of Turkey’s preparations and readiness to assist and offer safe haven, in case of an urgent evacuation, to all civilians in Keseb without distinction, including the town’s Armenian community.

It is reported that, in addition to two elderly Armenian sisters from Keseb who had sought shelter in Turkey in recent days, another group of 18 Armenians from Keseb have come to Turkey in search for safety.

All these persons have been welcomed in Turkey. They are safe. All their needs are being attended to. Others seeking refuge in Turkey will also be treated similary, as has been the case ever since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War.

This development highlights once again Turkey’s responsible and humane disposition towards the tragedy in Syria, fully in line with international law. To allege, as done by the Armenian Permanent Representative on 27 March 2014, under these circumstances that Al-Qaeda terrorists are using Turkey as a base to conduct operations in Syria is as regrettable as such claims are false. As indicated in our response to the Armenian Permanent Representative on that day, Turkey is not a harbor for, but a target of terrorism. On that occasion we also gave some examples of terrorist attacks in Turkey which were linked to Syria. In this connection, mention was made also of the 11 May 2013 attack on the town of Reyhanlı, initially reported to be linked to Al-Qaeda, but later discovered by Turkish security agencies to have been carried out by terrorist elements supported by the Syrian régime. All necessary explanations to the public on the background and perpetrators of this attack have already been made by the pertinent Turkish security agencies. Their statements on this issue remain fully valid.

Turkey has pursued an open doors policy towards Syrians fleeing the Civil War in their country. We are now hosting approximately 800.000 thousand Syrian nationals, using our resources to the maximum to offer them shelter and provide them with all their needs.