Istanbul grain deal one of UN’s greatest achievements: Turkish president

The Istanbul deal to resume Ukrainian grain exports has been one of the UN’s greatest achievements in recent years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.


“As a result of our intense efforts with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, we have ensured that Ukrainian grain reaches the world via the Black Sea,” Erdogan said in his address at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.


“This agreement, which is of critical importance in maintaining global grain supplies, is one of the greatest achievements of the UN in recent years.”


Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to restart grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.


A Joint Coordination Center with officials from the three countries and the UN was set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.


Since the first vessel sailed under the deal on Aug. 1, more than 160 ships have carried over 3 million tons of agricultural products through the grain corridor.


Erdogan emphasized that Türkiye will continue its efforts to end the war with an agreement “based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence.”


“Together, we need to find a reasonable, fair and viable diplomatic solution that will give both sides an honorable exit from the crisis,” he said.


He called on the international community to “sincerely support” Türkiye’s efforts for a lasting peace between Moscow and Kyiv.


“It is imperative that we restructure the UN, in line with its embracing characteristic, as an organization that can generate solutions for a fairer world order, and where common will is embodied on behalf of all humanity,” Erdogan said.


He said reforming the UN Security Council as a “more effective, democratic, transparent and accountable” structure will be a milestone for peace, justice and welfare.


“We will continue to stress at every platform that ‘the world is bigger than five’ and ‘a fairer world is possible’,” Erdogan said.


‘Greece turning Aegean Sea into graveyard of refugees’


The Turkish president called out Greece for its “persecution” of migrants in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.


“While we are struggling to prevent the deaths of more babies like Aylan, Greece is turning the Aegean into a graveyard of refugees with its unlawful and reckless pushbacks,” said Erdogan.


Aylan Kurdi was a 3-year-old Syrian refugee whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach in 2015, with his photo becoming the defining image of the global refugee crisis.


“The refugee crisis cannot be solved by sinking the boats of innocents who set out to seek a better future, leaving them to die, and by building walls on borders, and filling concentration camps with people,” he said.


“It is high time for Europe and the United Nations to put an end to these atrocities that constitute crimes against humanity.”


Ankara and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing asylum seekers back into Turkish waters and denying them entry, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.


“We expect Greece to shun its politics of provocations and heed our calls for cooperation,” Erdogan said.


He also urged the international community to make efforts to end the oppression of Turkish Cypriots, and to officially recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as soon as possible.


Besides its inhumane pushbacks of irregular migrants, Greece also pursues “discriminatory and oppressive policies” against the Muslim Turkish minority, he added.


Türkiye hopes that Greece will stop these problematic actions and that international organizations, particularly the EU, will stop turning a blind eye to its “inhuman and unlawful practices,” Erdogan stressed.


‘Türkiye cannot remain indifferent to PKK’


About the Syrian crisis, Erdogan reiterated the importance of finding a lasting solution that is in line with the legitimate expectations of the people and based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.


“The ongoing deadlock increasingly threatens both the security and stability of our region and the territorial integrity of Syria,” he said.


Ankara cannot be expected to remain indifferent to the PKK and its offshoots that carry out terrorist attacks against Türkiye, its security forces, and civilians, and threaten Syria’s territorial integrity, Erdogan said.


“We call on those trying to legitimize this terrorist organization with cheap tricks, such as changing its name, to stop arming and supporting terrorists, and to reverse their wrong course,” he added.


Ankara is ready to work with anyone who wants to contribute to the security and welfare of the region by cooperating with Türkiye, instead of terrorist organizations and “cruel” regimes, the president stressed.


“We strongly reiterate that we are capable of taking all kinds of measures against terrorism and that we will never hesitate to do what is necessary against terrorist organizations,” he added.


Erdogan said Türkiye is also making effort for peace and stability in its other neighbor Iraq.


“We want political unity and reconciliation in the country on the basis of Iraqi identity. This is the only way to promote welfare in a sustainable manner in Iraq and to prevent abuses by terrorist organizations,” he added.


Ankara supports 2-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict


Erdogan reiterated that Türkiye strongly supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which Ankara considers essential for permanent peace and stability in the Middle East.


“For a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution to the dispute in the region, there is no other possibility, except for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.


It is essential to respect the historical and cultural identity of Jerusalem, to stop the illegal settlement activities in the occupied lands, and to ensure the security of life and property of the Palestinians, the president added.


“As Türkiye, we are determined to continue to develop our relations with Israel for the sake of peace, stability, and the future of ourselves, this country, the Palestinian people, and the region,” Erdogan said.


He said North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean are “other regions that we need to carefully focus on, as far as security in the world is concerned.”


“Within this framework, Libya’s stability and prosperity are of crucial importance for the whole region, and primarily for its neighbors. Türkiye supports the efforts of the United Nations in this direction,” he said.


Türkiye aims to “enable Libya to reach the prosperity level it deserves, by protecting the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of the Libyan people,” he added.


Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict


Erdogan said Azerbaijan’s success in liberating its occupied lands has opened a “historic window of opportunity” for lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus.


“Türkiye has taken very important steps to make good use of this opportunity, by supporting the processes between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he said.


“We believe that it is still possible to sign a comprehensive peace agreement between the two countries in the shortest time possible,” he said, adding that Türkiye will continue to stand with Azerbaijan.


Turning to Iran, Erdogan said Türkiye expects ongoing talks regarding the 2015 nuclear deal to be concluded “as soon as possible.”


‘Mediation for Peace’


Türkiye strives to resolve global conflicts with its “Mediation for Peace” initiative, said Erdogan.


“We take on a constructive role, sometimes as a mediator and sometimes as a facilitator, in resolving conflicts breaking out in different regions, from Europe to Latin America, and to Africa,” he said.


On persisting tensions between Pakistan and India, Erdogan said Türkiye regrets “that a strong peace and cooperation … has still not yet been established” despite 75 years of independence.


“We hope that a just and lasting peace and tranquility will be reached in Kashmir,” he added.


He said Türkiye continues to support “the safe, voluntary, dignified, and permanent return of the Rohingya Muslims to their homeland.”


“We are sensitive to the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Muslim Uyghur Turks, in a way without any detriment at all to China’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights,” he added.


Türkiye is also making “intensive efforts, both on bilateral and multilateral platforms, to strengthen peace and stability in the Balkans and to solve disagreements by way of dialogue,” Erdogan added.


Source: Anadolu Agency