President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday departed for New York to attend the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). During his visit to the United States, Erdoğan is expected to reiterate his message calling for global justice and hold bilateral contacts with world leaders. Among the most important issues on the president's agenda are U.N. reforms, the fight against irregular migration, global climate change, Islamophobia and sharing knowledge and experience to control the pandemic. Ahead of his trip to the U.S., Erdoğan once again called on the Western world to take more responsibility in solving the global migrant crisis.
More than 130 heads of state and government, foreign ministers and delegates will attend the 76th U.N. summit, which will be held in New York this year and begins Tuesday, with some leaders sending video messages. Afghanistan, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change will come to the fore at the General Assembly meetings, which will bring world leaders together in a hybrid format this year.
Erdoğan, who, like all world leaders, sent a video message to the U.N. summit last year, departed to New York on Sunday to attend the General Assembly meetings this year. Erdogan will address the General Assembly on Tuesday. Addressing world leaders at the summit, Erdoğan will call for global justice. It is noted that Erdogan will express his views on the restructuring of the U.N., and in his General Assembly speech, he will repeat his call for everyone to take responsibility for the global migrations crisis.
Addressing reporters in Istanbul ahead of his trip to the U.S., Erdoğan said: "I will emphasize Turkey's strong support for multilateralism and the goal of establishing a fairer world order."
Turkey has long championed a more representative U.N. Security Council -one bigger than its five current permanent members- using the slogan, "The world is bigger than five."
"I will share our views on key issues on the U.N.'s agenda. From the General Assembly podium, I will express our approach to the challenges that threaten all humanity," Erdoğan told reporters.
Adding that that at the meeting Turkey will give "a message about migrants," he said: "Of course, we will have a message on the issue of migrants because we are the ones who bear the greatest burden of it."
He also called on Western countries to take more responsibility for the issue. Erdoğan also stated that he would meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York to discuss cooperation against the migrant crisis and other regional and bilateral issues.
The NATO members and regional rivals have been at odds over a host of maritime issues in the Eastern Mediterranean and migration.
Mitsotakis said on Friday that Turkey was an important partner in tackling any new migration challenge to Europe and needed support, adding that Europe itself has not delivered on a common policy in addressing the migrant issue.
"We need to see the steps to be taken from those around us. If we do not see it, we take the necessary decision and take the steps accordingly," Erdoğan said in response to Mitsotakis' remarks.
"Turkey is nobody's doorman on this," he added, echoing earlier comments that Turkey cannot be expected to take in a new wave of migrants.
Turkey was abandoned in its efforts to prevent irregular migration, Erdoğan said recently. "Turkey has been left alone in its extraordinary struggle to prevent irregular migration originating from Syria," the president said in a video message sent to a symposium on the Aegean Sea and Turkish-Greek relations.
Saying that the 2015 refugee crisis – when 1.3 million people traveled to Europe to request asylum – could have been instrumental in strengthening cooperation between Turkey and Greece, Erdoğan said Athens wasted this opportunity with its "uncompromising stance."
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also recently highlighted the importance of taking joint action to deal with the migrant crisis, as he urged the European Union to properly implement the terms of the 2016 deal and undertake burden-sharing responsibilities.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution such as the Syrian civil war. Through its March 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey was key in bringing down migrant numbers and alleviating the crisis.
Concerns have risen over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan, due to the U.S.' pullout from the country and the following surge of Taliban attacks. Turkey has made it clear that it will not bear the burden of the migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries.
Turkey is continuing efforts to bolster the security of its border with Iran to prevent any new migrant wave in the face of the recent developments in Afghanistan. The beefed-up border measures in Turkey, which already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian refugees and is a staging post for many migrants trying to reach Europe, began as the Taliban started advancing in Afghanistan and took over Kabul last month.
Turkey is not the only country putting up barriers. Its neighbor Greece has just completed a 40-kilometer (25-mile) fence and surveillance system to keep out migrants who still manage to enter Turkey and try to reach the EU.
Authorities say there are 182,000 registered Afghan migrants in Turkey and up to an estimated 120,000 unregistered ones. Erdoğan urged European countries to take responsibility for any new influx, warning that Turkey had no intention of becoming "Europe's migrant storage unit."
Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees – more than any country in the world. After the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, Turkey adopted an “open-door policy” for people fleeing the conflict, granting them “temporary protection” status. Afghans are believed to be the second-largest refugee community in Turkey after Syrians. Many of the migrants arriving via Iran are heading for Istanbul to find work or passage to another coastal city from which to embark for Europe.
Erdoğan is also expected to hold other bilateral meetings with important leaders, notably with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He will also hold talks with the leaders in a special format at the dinner to be given by the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
During his visit which will last until Sept. 22, Erdoğan will on Monday inaugurate the Turkish House (Türkevi), which is located in Manhattan, right across from the U.N. headquarters.
The previous building that had long been used by Turkey as a building for consular affairs and permanent representation was knocked down to construct a new one. The new Turkish House is expected to overshadow the U.N. building, the U.N. Plaza and the building of the U.S.' U.N. permanent representation with a height of 171 meters (561 feet).
Turkish House was designed to reflect the Turkish culture and history, featuring and a multiplicity of Turkish architectural motifs. It will also be a green-friendly building with "LEED Silver" certification.
In addition, as part of the conference titled "A Fairer World Is Possible" to be organized by the Turkish-American National Steering Committee, Erdoğan will meet with representatives of Turkish and Muslim communities in the U.S.
It is expected that Erdoğan will give interviews to media outlets in the U.S. and attend the traditional dinner of the 11th Turkey Investment Conference to be organized by the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK) with the participation of the representatives of the U.S. business world.
The president's book, "A Fairer World Is Possible," carries an in-depth explanation of Turkey's search for justice for all humanity.
The book was published by the Istanbul-based publishing house Turkuvaz and translated into several languages, including English, Arabic, German, French, Russian and Spanish. Profits from the book will go to Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
Pointing to the dilemmas of global politics, especially injustice, the refugee crisis, international terrorism and anti-Islam rhetoric in the book, Erdoğan reveals the discrimination and double standards in the world, providing the U.N. as an example.
In the book, the president draws attention to issues of legitimacy, functionality, effectiveness, inclusion, representation and governance within the U.N., underlining the need for comprehensive reform, especially in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC).
While the book also includes proposals for the restructuring of the U.N., it recommends the implementation of a perspective summed up in the phrase "The world is bigger than five" and focuses on changing the structure of the UNSC.
The book suggests that the council be reorganized in a way that represents the continents, beliefs, origins and cultures in the fairest way possible. It states that this will be a revolutionary step for the solution and establishment of global peace.
In this context, it proposes that the number of permanent members in the UNSC be increased to 20 from the current five.
In the book, it is explained that the powers of the General Assembly have been increased, that the UNSC is not the only determinant and that a balance must be achieved by making it accountable to the General Assembly.
It states that the election of 20 countries to the council from the General Assembly can serve as an alternative solution.
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