World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday addressed the opening of the 67th UN General Assembly meetings in New York, calling for joint action in resolving international crises in many parts of the world.
"On many matters, we speak as one, yet we often fail to act in unity ... And if not now, when are we supposed to act in unity- ... And if it is not the United Nations, who is to lead-" Davutoglu told the General Assembly, saying that expectations from the United Nations have failed over issues such as Palestine, Azerbaijan, Syria, Cyprus and Myanmar.
Davutoglu said Turkey has expressed its strong support for the two-state solution in Palestine and adopted many decisions and resolutions, adding, "however, we still hope, one day, Palestine will be represented as an equal member in this Assembly."
The Turkish minster said that his country had underlined the need for a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh in accordance with the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, adding that there had been no single step towards resolution of this problem for the last two decades.
"Yet again, the Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for almost half a century. Nearly a decade has passed since the UN Settlement Plan of 2004, which was endorsed by the entire international community," Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu said terrorists continued to strike and take lives of innocent people, however added that there had been no effective international response and adequate solidarity against the scourge of terrorism.
"Today, some states employ methods of state violence and brutal oppression with impunity that cost lives of the innocent citizens that they are obliged to protect. If we cannot regard the rights of a person in Syria, Palestine, Somalia, Afghanistan and Rakhine region and other places, as equal as of our own, how can we talk about freedom and justice-" Davutoglu said.
"If fundamental human rights are forfeited for the sake of power politics, and become negotiable and even alienable in talks among a few nations in the UN Security Council, how are we to achieve universal human rights and security-" he said.
Davutoglu said the world needed a strong, efficient and credible UN, adding that the UN reform to make the organization fit for the purpose should be tackled.
"The working methods and structures of the UN are not commensurate with the current realities of the world. The UN Security Council, with its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, should become more representative and functional," he said.
Touching on recent attacks against the Prophet Mohammad and Islam, Davutoglu described the attacks as "outright provocations."
"They aim to pit nations and peoples against each other. We deplore in the strongest terms the malicious attempts to denigrate the most sacred values of Islam and any faith. We condemn all sorts of incitement to hatred and religious discrimination against Muslims and people of other faiths. Unfortunately, Islamophobia has also become a new form of racism like anti-Semitism," Davutoglu said.
He said Islamophobia can no longer be tolerated under the guise of freedom of expression.
"Freedom does not mean anarchy. It means responsibility. The purpose of the Islamophobia is clear and simple: It aims to create an abstract, and an imaginary enemy from the millions of peace loving Muslims all over the world. Regretfully, accepting generalities, stereotypes and prejudice as truth, many people unknowingly become Islamophobic. However, no agenda, no provocation, no attack, no incitement of hatred can darken the bright face of Islam," he said.
Davutoglu said Turkey condemned all sorts of provocations and violence that led to the loss of lives in many countries, including the US Ambassador in Libya.
"I express our sincere condolences for all who have lost their lives. Violence against innocent people cannot be justified under any pretext. Any such activity, no matter by whom it is carried out or for what purpose, is a betrayal against the soul, spirit and letter of Islam. However, the recent events are testament to a more serious problem that should concern not just Muslims, but the adherents of all faiths and religions. The alarming increase in the number of acts that defame religions and thereby people who adhere to such religions, have now serious implications for international peace and security. Therefore, time has come to establish denigration of all religions and their followers as a hate crime," Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu said international community needed to take swift measures, adding that the United Nations, in particular, must lead this effort and should provide the international legal framework to that end.
"We are resolved to actively pursue this objective and work diligently with the like-minded nations and international organizations to ensure that we take a united and effective stance against Islamophobia and all forms of hate crimes," he said.
Davutoglu said Turkey was "well aware of the need to ensure the safety, security and protection of the diplomats. In the last four decades, Turkish nation lost its 33 diplomats because of the ASALA terrorism. We encourage the UN to focus on a new understanding for protection of the diplomats."
Touching on the crisis in Syria, Davutoglu called on the United Nations Security Council for action, saying that more than 30 thousand people had been killed, around 300 hundred thousand Syrian had fled to neighboring countries, and more than 1 million people have been internally displaced.
"And what has the international community done to stop this carnage- Literally nothing," he said.
Davutoglu said the situation in Syria had become a threat to peace and stability in the region, adding that the Syrian regime deployed every instrument to turn the legitimate struggle of the Syrian people into a sectarian war, which he said would engulf the entire region into a wider conflict.
"It is high time that the UN Security Council must take action as this Assembly called for. There has to be a solution to ensure the immediate safety and security of the Syrian people. There has to be a solution for a sound transition process that will pave the way for the creation of a new and democratic Syria. The regime in power has to step down and allow an interim Government to lead the country to free and fair elections," Davutoglu said.
On the Palestine issue, Davutoglu described the problem "a tragedy" that has long been taking place in the Middle East, adding that there had been no progress despite the international community's admitting that the unacceptability and unsustainability of the situation in Gaza.
"As a result, in the fourth year of the unlawful blockade by Israel, the people and particularly the children in Gaza continue to live in despair, desolation and fear. Indeed, when President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at this Assembly last year and declared the right of Palestine to be recognized as an independent state, I remember seeing the whole Assembly in standing ovation. But today, we are yet to see the State of Palestine as an equal member of this Assembly," he said.
Davutoglu said at a time when the whole world's attention was focused on the Middle East, the international community should not forget that there were serious human tragedies taking place elsewhere.
"And we do not have the luxury to turn a blind eye to any human suffering. As I have personally witnessed during my visit in June, the people of Rakhine region and especially the Rohingya Moslems are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The democratization process underway in Myanmar provides us with a window of opportunity as the government repeatedly stressed its readiness to cooperate with the international community for easing the suffering of these people," Davutoglu said.
The Turkish minister also brought up details of the Cyprus issue at the General Assembly, saying that a new round of talks started in 2008 were stuck with no end in sight due to Greek Cypriots' "intransigence and lack of political will."
"And today, despite half a century's experience and body of UN work, there is still not a clear perspective for solution. The Turkish Cypriots have so far proven their firm commitment to a negotiated solution, but yet remain subject to inhumane and unlawful embargo. This is simply unfair. They should not be forced to play this game for an indefinite period without a clear perspective and timeline for a solution. The international community must not remain indifferent to what is happening in Cyprus either. After all, the continuation of the problem creates additional risks for the stability of the region. Moreover, the unilateral exploration of oil and natural gas by the Greek Cypriots around the island further intensifies the risks. Under these circumstances, the UN must do more than what it currently does. The Security Council in particular has to facilitate a solution rather than merely sustaining the status quo," Davutoglu said.
"Gap between top two UN bodies widening"
Davutoglu has said differences between the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council had been widening.
"The angle between the General Assembly and the Security Council is getting wider and wider. The differences between the two's work rhythms create problems," Davutoglu on Friday told Turkish reporters after his address to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Davutoglu said the United Nations needed an extensive restructuring, adding that there were efforts underway to that end as well as to establish "a new international order."
The Turkish foreign minister also said there were initiatives to increase the number of Security Council members and overhauling the council's structure.
Davutoglu said crisis in Syria was the top issue on the agenda of this year's UN General Assembly meetings, adding that he held bilateral positive talks with envoys of Iran, Iraq, Greece and Russia.