Declaration by Jean Asselborn calling upon Turkey to cease its unilateral military action in north-east Syria

Luxembourg condemns the Turkish military operation in north-east Syria and reaffirms that a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict cannot be achieved militarily.

Like its European Union partners, Luxembourg calls upon Turkey to cease its unilateral military action. Renewed armed hostilities in the north-east further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements. Prospects for the UN-led political process to achieve peace in Syria will be more difficult.

Unilateral action on Turkey's part threatens the progress achieved by the Global Coalition to defeat of Da'esh, of which Turkey is a member.

Military action indeed undermines the security of the Coalition's local partners, in particular the Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and it risks protracted instability in north-east Syria, providing fertile ground for the resurgence of Da'esh which remains a significant threat to international, regional and European security. The secure detention of terrorist fighters is imperative in order to prevent them from joining the ranks of terrorist groups.

It is unlikely that a so-called 'safe zone' in north-east Syria, as envisaged by Turkey, would satisfy international criteria for refugee return as laid down by UNHCR. We maintain our position that refugee and internally displaced persons returns to their places of origin must be safe, voluntary and dignified. Any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable. We will not provide stabilisation or development assistance in areas where the rights of local populations are ignored.

We share the goal of ending violence, defeating terrorism and promoting stability in Syria and the wider region. Turkey is a key partner of the European Union and a critically important actor in the Syrian crisis and the region, and we commend Turkey for its important role as a host country of Syrian refugees. Turkey's security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not military action, in accordance with international humanitarian law. Luxembourg continues to urge all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access throughout Syria.

We remain committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state.  These can be assured only through a genuine political transition in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process.

Press release by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

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