President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan left behind an intense schedule of meetings with six heads of state and 10 prime ministers as well as opinion and religious leaders during his program on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Addressing the General Assembly Tuesday morning on the first day of general debate and at the climate summit on Wednesday, Erdoğan highlighted many critical issues, including Palestine, the Syrian crisis, racism, nuclear armaments, the fight against Daesh and the Cyprus issue. After a busy schedule, he left New York yesterday to return to Turkey. The president also carried out numerous bilateral meetings with officials from different countries. While details of most of his meetings were not publicized, the president reportedly discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, and took up particular matters in some meetings.
During his closed door meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis Wednesday, the two leaders discussed the migrant issue. "I had a frank discussion with President Erdoğan on all major issues from immigration to Cyprus to bilateral matters," Mitsotakis tweeted after the meeting.
"We agreed to work together to build a better climate for the benefit of our people and the stability of the region," he said.
A Greek official said the two leaders "agreed to make every effort to decrease the flow of migrants."
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis yesterday also called for the European Union to commit more money to support Turkey to stem the rising flow of migrants.
The 2016 EU-Turkey deal helped ease the crisis on Greek islands near Turkey, whose facilities were overwhelmed by a refugee influx in 2015. The numbers of refugees and migrants coming from Turkey have been significantly reduced as a result of the agreement.
Erdoğan met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michael.
The president also met with a number of his counterparts, including Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Iraqi President Barham Salih, Moldovan President Igor Dodon, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Zeljko Komsic and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Besides his meetings with presidents and prime ministers, Erdoğan hosted representatives of Jewish institutions in the U.S. behind closed doors at the Peninsula Hotel, came together with the Muslim community, had a meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and attended a dinner organized by the Türken Foundation.
President Erdoğan and first lady Emine Erdoğan on Wednesday also attended a dinner given by U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump in honor of the U.N. General Assembly delegates. On Sunday, the president met with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in New York. Following the meeting at the Peninsula Hotel, Graham told reporters the discussion with the Turkish president had gone well and expressed hope for a more strategic relationship between Ankara and Washington. "I am hopeful we can get a more strategic relationship with Turkey... try to get them back in the F-35 program, maybe talk about a free trade program," said Graham. "Because Turkey is a very important ally, not just when it comes to Syria, really for the whole region."
On Wednesday, Erdoğan also attended a U.N. event on countering hate speech, saying Turkey is determined to contribute to efforts to fight anti-Muslim sentiment, racism and hate speech, a crime that Muslims suffer the most. Underlining that hate speech has become the most frequently used tool to spread anti-Muslim sentiment, racism and xenophobia, Erdoğan said that Muslims are more likely to experience attacks based on hate speech. Anti-Muslim hatred has significantly risen worldwide in the recent years. Far-right extremism and xenophobia have fueled anti-Muslim hatred in Western countries, where terror attacks by Daesh and al-Qaida are used as an excuse to legitimize those views.