Statement by H.E. Amb. CHO Tae-yul
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea
Security Council Open Debate on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question"
20 January 2014
Thank you, Mr. President,
First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation to you, Mr. President, for your devoted efforts in organizing today's open debate. Let me also extend my sincere thanks to SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon for his comprehensive briefing.
During the final weeks of 2013 and the beginning of the new year, critical developments have transpired in the Middle East at a steady pace. Some are positive, giving us cause for cautious optimism, while others present uncertainties and concerns. The great Syrian poet Adonis once wrote, "To whom do these distances belong that separated us and that now bind us?" Indeed, disagreements and differences among us are the very origin of the challenges we face.
At the same time, such differences also highlight our interconnectedness, and push us towards a renewed resolve to address the problems before us.
On the situation in Syria, we welcome the Geneva II peace conference to be convened later this week. As a participant, the Republic of Korea will play its due part in making a meaningful progress. We would like to commend the efforts made by all parties who made this conference possible. In nearly three years of fighting, the conflict has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths, 2.3 million refugees, and 6.5 million internally displaced persons. Comprehensive and action-oriented peace talks are now an absolute necessity, and an unconditional ceasefire and expanded humanitarian access are urgently needed.
Every second from now is of infinite value, and we must seize the moment to stop further human
suffering. Recently, there has been a brutal campaign waged by the Syrian Government with the use
of heavy weapons such as barrel bombs in densely populated areas. We condemn such attacks and
urge the Syrian Government to halt this indiscriminate killing. Clashes between predominantly
foreign Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and local opposition forces are also a matter of deep concern.
We are deeply troubled by the reports of massacres, mass graves, and forced religious conversions.
On the other side of recent developments, we welcome the continued progress made in the
implementation of Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013). We commend the joint efforts by the
UN and OPCW to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons even in the face of an incredibly challenging
environment. Together with the outcome of the humanitarian aid donor conference held in Kuwait
last week, these are good signs that our joint efforts are making progress. I sincerely hope that such
efforts will provide the basis for the success of the Geneva II conference.
Another worrying example of the spillover from the Syrian conflict is the recent attacks against
the city of Fallujah in Iraq, which were perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The
Republic of Korea is deeply concerned about the increased human losses and the worsening
humanitarian situation in this area. We encourage the Iraqi Government to continue its close
cooperation with local leaders to fight back the extremist militia, and hope that Iraq will achieve
lasting peace and stability through an inclusive political process and reconciliation.
The escalating violence in Lebanon is also of serious concern to many of us in this hall. The
Republic ofKorea strongly condemns the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Beirut and Hermel. The
attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, the assassination of the former Minister Mohamad Chatah,
and targeted attacks on civilians in South Beirut are all a reflection of the continued spillover from
the Syrian conflict into Lebanon. The Korean Government urges all parties in Lebanon to respect
the disassociation policy and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis, in accordance
with their commitments as set out in the Baabda Declaration.
The Republic of Korea also extends its support to the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon which convened last week in the Hague. We hope that the perpetrators of the 2005 terrorist attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafick Hariri and 21 others are brought to justice. We view the Special Tribunal as a historic opportunity to combat impunity in Lebanon.
It is an undisputable fact of life that earlier settlement of the long-overdue Middle East Peace Process constitutes a founding block for the peace and stability of the entire Middle East region. In this regard, the Korean government commends Israel and Palestine for remaining committed to peace negotiations, and notes with appreciation the continued efforts of the US Government to make progress in the right direction. We believe that working towards an agreed framework that establishes concrete guidelines to deal with the core issues will lead to the much needed breakthrough for the ongoing peace talks.
At the same time, we sincerely hope that the continued settlement activities and the demolition of Palestinian buildings come to an end. We condemn the continued rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza which threatens the fragile peace. It is also important that the security in the West Bank should improve in order to foster the necessary confidence to move the negotiations forward.
We all know that, in today's ever interconnected world, not a single country can enjoy its own separated peace and stability on the sidelines. This is why the international community should get together in dealing with regional conflicts. For this, the Republic of Korea would like to emphasize the importance of sustained efforts to promote peace and stability in the Middle East. In this regard, it is imperative that the Security Council, in which rests the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, play its due role, serving to forge a united voice.
Thank you. /End/