Turkish PM calls for 'Syria without Assad' in UN address
NEW YORK - Anadolu AgencyAnyone thinking of any solution to the Syrian conflict must think of a Syria without Bashar al-Assad, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu said Sept. 30, calling the embattled president "a vicious tyrant".
Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York, Davutoğlu said the Syrian tragedy would not end unless the country had a legitimate government.
"Every minute [Assad] stays in power adds on the shame of those who support him," he said.
Davutoğlu's remarks came at a time of heightened international debate over Assad's future, with Russia and Iran actively backing their ally. Turkey, the US and others have insisted that Assad must leave office.
Earlier on Sept. 30, the upper house of Russia's parliament voted unanimously to give President Vladimir Putin the authority to deploy the country's armed forces in Syria, followed by the country's first airstrikes against positions associated with the Daesh militant group.
"The number of Syrians who fled chemical weapons, missiles and indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Assad regime and ground assault by the terrorist organization Daesh has exceeded 4 million. And more than 12 million internally displaced, almost half of which are children, are in desperate need of help," Davutoğlu said.
"This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. Until then, the international community must act swiftly to provide them safety in their homeland, a 'safe area', free from aerial bombardment by the regime and ground assault by Daesh and other terrorist organizations," he added.
Syria's devastating civil war, now in its fifth year, has claimed more than 250,000 lives, according to UN figures, and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people.
Palestinian flag raised at UN for first time
The Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 30.
The green, black, red and white colored flag was raised during a formal ceremony following Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' address to the UN General Assembly.
Abbas said it was an "historical moment in the struggle of the Palestinian people towards freedom and independence".
"Raise the flag of Palestine very high. Because it is the symbol of our identity", he said.
The ceremony was also attended by Davutoğlu, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, among others.
The General Assembly adopted a Palestinian-sponsored resolution Sept. 10 permitting non-member observer states to raise their flags at the world body's headquarters alongside those of member states.
The symbolic move came as Palestinians step up efforts for international recognition of their statehood, despite fierce opposition from Israel and its allies.
The state of Palestine and the Holy See are the only non-member observer states at the UN.
Speaking at the ceremony, the UN chief said the event "reflects the commitment of the Palestinian Authority to pursue the long-held dream of the Palestinian people for their own state.
"It also symbolizes the longstanding commitment of the United Nations to support Palestinian aspirations," Ban said, adding however that the ceremony does not represent the end-goal of a two-state solution with Palestinians and Israelis living side-by-side.
During his address to the General Assembly, Davutoğlu said that hoisting the Palestinian flag is a "significant step toward enabling the parties to stand at an equal footing at the table, for a healthy negotiation process that leads to an equitable and sustainable peace".
The flag was raised in front of the UN secretariat building at the northeast side of First Avenue and 42nd Street, alongside the flag of the Vatican.