In address to UN Assembly, Turkish President urges support for victims of terrorism

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

24 September 2014 – With more than 1.5 million refugees seeking refuge in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan today called for international support to aid victims of terrorism, while also making a case for reform of the United Nations Security Council.

Addressing the 69th high-level debate of the General Assembly for the first time as the Turkish President, Mr. Erdogan lashed out at the inability to the Security Council to stop the violence in Syria.

“The world is more than five,” he said in reference to the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

This situation is “unacceptable,” Mr. Erdogan said, given that the veto power of one country could impact the decision of the entire UN body.

Those who stood by and remained unresponsive to the killing of children and women were openly participating in those crimes against humanity, he continued.

He went on to say that unfortunately, areas around Syria and Iraq had become a “free region” for terrorist organizations, which had a direct effect on countries in the region, particularly on Turkey. Hopefully a new Government in Iraq would mean a fresh start, and Turkey would stand by it for stability and peace. The Syrian crisis was now spilling over the borders of Iraq as well.

Turkey is hosting some 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have crossed the border to escape the conflict which is now in its fourth year.

“So far, Turkey has spent more than $4.5 billion,” Mr. Erdogan said, in sharp contrast to European countries who were hosting 130,000 refugees.

The President rejected terrorist acts supposedly carried out in the name of religion and “strongly condemned” coupling terrorism with Islam, which means peace.

“Those labeling their inhumane actions as ‘Islamic’, disrespected Islam, as well as all humanity,” said Mr. Erdogan.

He underscored Turkey’s objectivity in issues related to terrorism and sectarian conflict, as well as racism, and the country’s resolve to fight for “democracy and prosperity with heart and soul.”

Mr. Erdogan is one of 196 speakers at this year’s annual debate which is organized around the theme of a “transformative post-2015 development agenda.”

His speech comes ahead of next month’s elections in the General Assembly for five non-permanent members of the Security Council for the 2015-2016 term.

President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic today renewed his country’s pledge to be a responsible partner to the United Nations by working with regional and bilateral partners for peace and stability in South-East Europe.

President Filip Vujanovic of Montenegro addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Mr. Vujanovic said Montenegro contributes to strengthening the UN system and enabling respect for human rights, promotion of democracy and the rule of law, while devising and implementing a global response to key challenges.

He noted that Montenegro became the 44th country to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), is a member of the Human Rights Council, and hosts the eco-friendly UN Eco building.

Turning to the sustainable development agenda which is the theme of this year’s debate, Mr. Vujanovic underscored that it must be centred in human rights with the overarching objectives of poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Also addressing the General Assembly today, President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, highlighted Switzerland’s two main priorities at the United Nations – strengthening international security and reforming the Organization.

President Didier Burkhalter of Switzerland addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Noting the threat of the terrorism group ISIL, he underscored the importance of finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, calling on parties to return to the negotiating table.

In his speech, Mr. Burkhalter also urged the UN Security Council to refer the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where those who committed injustices can be held to account.

Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, he noted that isolating Russia “will not solve any problems, but will only create more, in Europe and beyond.”

In reference to development, Mr. Burkhlater announced that Switzerland will augment its contribution to international development and humanitarian cooperation by allocating funds to the equivalent of 0.5 per cent of our gross national income.

Among other issues, the President noted that Swiss-based research centres are working to arrange clinical tests of an Ebola vaccine, which the UN World Health Organization (WHO) would like to have sped up.

In order to meet all these challenges, he stressed that the UN needs to function in an “effective, transparent and democratic fashion.” His recommendations include strengthening the UN’s political missions, reforming planning and budgeting processes, and restraining the use of the Security Council veto in cases involving mass atrocities.

Also addressing the Assembly, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, said that there are unprecedented threats to peace and security in Post-World War Two Europe and the world, while terrorism, climate change, human rights violations and the spread of the Ebola virus continue to be global challenges.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

“We need a concerted effort to achieve peace and stability in Europe and the Middle East, and to restore the credibility of international law,” he said. stressing that no circumstances can ever justify terrorism in any form. By signing UN antiterrorism conventions, States have promised to prevent and investigate terrorist crimes and also to refrain from supporting or tacitly tolerating those crimes, he said.

As for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), like other speakers today, Mr. Ilves said the group poses a serious threat to the people of Iraq and Syria as well as the broader Middle East. “This terrorist organization executes prisoners, kills civilians and commits genocidal acts against religious and national minorities…it challenges the universal human values enshrined in United Nations' documents. We must stop the terrorists.”

Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, he said that situation is “not solely a conflict between two countries. It is not even solely a European issue. If instead of agreements and laws, raw force will apply in international relations; if changing State borders by force will become an accepted norm, then the stability of the whole world will be threatened.”

Such developments must be firmly condemned, President Ilves continued, underscoring that the international community cannot leave Crimea as it is now. “We cannot accept frozen conflicts created for geopolitical ends. Referenda that are in agreement with international law cannot be arranged in two weeks, in the presence of foreign armed forces…independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity must remain the fundamental rights of states and nations.

In her speech, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Member States should work together to fight against climate change and promoting sustainable development to ensure the sustainability of the planet. TO that end, it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation for an ambitious agreement on climate change in Paris in 2015 and an agreement on the development program for post-2015.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark addresses General Assembly. UN Photo/Hubi Hoffmann

"A legally binding agreement to reduce CO2 emissions must be concluded next year in Paris," she said, adding that her country had allocated $300 million to tackle climate change.

ON other issued before the Assembly, Ms. Thorning-Schmidt said that women's rights, including the right to reproductive health, should be included in the post-2015 UU development agenda. Education, especially for the most disadvantaged, should also be a priority, she added.


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