ADDS REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN
By Beyza Binnur Donmez and Vakkas Dogantekin
ANKARA (AA) - 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 Erdogan said Tuesday.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Erdogan 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 disguise of Syrian Democratic Forces in Northern Syria, must be dealt with for safety and security of the region, said the Turkish President.
Erdogan also called on UN members to back Turkey's efforts to ensure security in Syria's Idlib to avoid mass migration and massacres and he added the international community is "losing its 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, he said. "We've spent 40 billion dollars on asylum seekers in the last eight years.”
"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 a Turkish coast in 2015 while trying to cross to Europe.
Erdogan underlined Turkey saved 32,000 irregular migrants from drowning at sea, repatriated 58,000, not including Syrians, in 2019.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.
The PKK's Syrian branch YPG has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting against Daesh with the support of the U.S.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
- 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,” Erdogan 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, Erdogan 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 UN, 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.”
- Turkey to continue protect its interests in the Eastern Meditterean
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," Erdogan 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," Erdogan said, and added that Turkey will be open to all proposals based on cooperation and equitable sharing.
In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure.
The latest, in 2017 in Crans-Montana, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in failure.
In 2004, in twin referendums, the plan of then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was accepted by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots.
Talks have focused on a federal model, based on the political equality of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides, but Greek Cypriots’ intransigence and rejection of such a solution, including the Annan plan, led to the emergence of other models.
In a recent report, current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said "new ideas" may be needed for a settlement on the island.