Peace corridor to solve Syria migrant crisis: Erdoğan to UN General Assembly
NEW YORK- Anadolu Agency
A peace corridor on Turkey's Syria border will enable the resettlement of 3 million Syrians from Turkey, Europe and other countries if it is extended to the Deir ez Zor-Raqqa line, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 24.
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Erdoğan said "efficient functioning" of the Constitutional Committee is "critical for political and territorial unity of Syria."
Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed Aug. 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home.
The PKK/YPG terror group is operating under the disguise of Syrian Democratic Forces in Northern Syria, must be dealt with for safety and security of the region, said the Turkish President.
Erdoğan also called on U.N. members to back Turkey's efforts to ensure security in Syria's Idlib to avoid mass migration and massacres and he added international community "losing the ability to find lasting solutions" to challenges such as terrorism, hunger, misery and climate change.
Turkey is "the most generous country" with humanitarian aid, hosting 5 million displaced people fleeing conflict, starvation, persecution -- more than population of 29 U.S. states.
"In 2019, Turkey saved 32,000 irregular migrants from drowning at sea, repatriated 58,000, not including Syrians," Erdoğan added.
"Unfortunately, the world public was only too quick to forget their survival journeys or the lives which were ended either in the dark waters of the Mediterranean Sea or against the security fences stretched to borders," he said, adding Turkey will never forget the memories of Aylan babies whose lifeless bodies washed ashore.
Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian toddler, who drowned on the Turkish coast in 2015 while trying to cross to Europe.
'Int'l community, UN should provide support to Palestinians'
Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation has become one of the places on earth where "injustice prevails the most,” Erdoğan said.
"If the images of an innocent Palestinian woman who was murdered heinously by Israeli security forces on the street just a few days ago cannot awake the consciences, then we are at a point where the words fail," he said.
Turkey has "a clear stance" on the issue, Erdoğan said. "The immediate establishment of an independent and homogeneous Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital is the solution,” he said, as he urged the international community and UN to provide "concrete support to the Palestinian people beyond mere promises."
He also questioned the role and mission of U.N., saying it fails to implement its own resolutions against Israel.
“How can the Golan Heights and the West Bank settlements be seized, just like other occupied Palestinian territories, before the eyes of the world if they are not within the borders of this state,” he asked rhetorically. “Is the aim of the initiative presented as the 'Deal of the Century,' to eliminate the presence of the state and people of Palestine?,” he said in reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's much-hyped plan to solve the Palestine-Israel issue.
He then admonished his audience by saying: “All actors of the international community, in particular, the United Nations, should provide concrete support to the Palestinian people beyond mere promises."
'Nuclear power must be forbidden or permissible, to everyone'
The inequality between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states is "alone enough to undermine global balances," said Erdoğan.
"It bothers us like anyone else that the weapons of mass destruction are used as leverage in every crisis instead of their total elimination," he stressed. The possession of nuclear power "should either be forbidden for all or permissible for everyone," he added.
Turkey to continue to protect its interests in the Eastern Mediterranean
Despite negotiations of more than 50 years, the Cyprus issue has not been resolved due to the "uncompromising position of the Greek Cypriot side," said the Turkish president.
Saying the Greek Cypriot side refuses to share the political power and prosperity with Turkish Cypriots, Erdogan stressed those who claim to solve the problem under the condition of "zero security, zero guarantee" have "ill-intentions."
As the international treaty-based guarantor, Turkey will continue its efforts until a solution that guarantees the security and rights of Turkish Cypriot people is found, he said.
"We believe that the energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean constitute an important opportunity for cooperation if we all adopt a 'win-win' approach," Erdoğan said.
He said some countries in the region are trying to turn "the issue of energy resources into an area of conflict."
"In the Eastern Mediterranean, we will protect the legitimate rights and interests of both Turkish and Turkish Cypriot people till the very end," Erdoğan said and added that Turkey will be open to all proposals based on cooperation and equitable sharing.
Erdogan meets UN chief, leaders in New York
Erdoğan also met on Sept. 24 with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.
The meeting was held at U.N. headquarters on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly's 74th session.
In a statement, the UN said Erdogan and Guterres exchanged views on the fight against climate change.
"They also discussed situations of mutual concern, including Syria, Libya, and Cyprus," said the statement.
Erdoğan also held a number of talks, including with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, which took place behind closed doors.
The president later met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The closed-door meeting was attended by Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, among others.
He also received Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The meeting between Erdogan and Conte lasted 45 minutes, during which Turkish Environment Minister Murat Kurum, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Akar were present.
‘Turkey preparing to rid east of the Euphrates of terrorists’
Meanwhile, Turkey is getting ready to clear the YPG/PKK terror group from the area east of Euphrates in northern Syria, Erdoğan said on Sept. 24.
He noted that Ankara has been making diplomatic efforts to ensure peace in Idlib, which the president said hosts 4 million residents and was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
He said Turkey is reconstructing schools, hospitals, infrastructure and superstructure in Syrian cities it has cleared of terrorists.
Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and ISIL terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
"Now we are preparing to clean the east of the Euphrates from terrorist organizations for the same purpose," said Erdoğan, vowing to rebuild terror-hit areas.
"We aim to ensure that both the Syrians in our country and our brothers who reside in the region will contribute to the reconstruction of Syria when peace is maintained," said the president.
Erdoğan also called on world leaders at the summit to back Turkey' efforts to do so.
Pakistani PM thanks Erdoğan for Kashmir address
In the meantime, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Erdoğan for raising the Kashmir issue in his address on Sept. 24 to the U.N. General Assembly.
Khan told reporters in New York he hoped more leaders at least as India to lift the siege on Kashmir.
"We are very thankful that the president has taken a very principled stance," said Khan, adding Pakistan has a "very good relationship" with Turkey.
He also said Erdoğan will visit Islamabad next month.
Erdogan told the body that a solution to the Kashmir issue can only be found through dialogue and the Kashmir issue has awaited a solution for 72 years.