Turkish President Erdoğan defended Turkey's actions in Syria and Iraq and addressed concerns about its commitment to territorial integrity at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.https://t.co/0A2pjlo9gX pic.twitter.com/atvhZUMPSR
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended Turkey’s actions in Syria and Iraq and addressed concerns about its commitment to territorial integrity at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s commitment to the principles of fairness, constructiveness and unwavering support for Syria’s political unity, social cohesion and economic stability. He claimed that Turkey was the only nation taking such a stance against developments that threaten Syria.
“Of course, we will not abandon to their fate more than four million people who are struggling for survival in difficult conditions in northern Syria”, Erdoğan declared. He highlighted Turkey’s ongoing efforts to resettle Syrian refugees using newly constructed housing units in the region, action he pledged to accelerate.
Erdoğan’s remarks in fact referred to Turkey’s plan to settle Arab refugees in the originally Kurdish town of Afrin (Efrîn) in Syria, which Turkey took control of in 2018. Turkey has previously declared its intention to return more than one million displaced Syrians currently living in Turkey to Syria and establish settlements in areas under the control of Turkish forces and allied Syrian armed groups.
The Turkish president argued that the main threat to Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity stemmed from “the support given to terrorist organisations by external powers seeking to influence the country’s future”.
Drawing parallels with its approach to Syria, Erdoğan also reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to Iraq’s political unity, territorial integrity and reconstruction efforts, stressing that Turkey does not discriminate between Iraq’s different ethnic and religious components.
However, Erdoğan’s comments come amid accusations that Turkey is undermining the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq. On Tuesday, Iraqi President Latif Rashid expressed alarm at Turkey’s drone strikes targeting Kurdish fighters within the borders of Iraq. Rashid argued that these actions are part of Turkey’s aggressive stance threatening the stability and security that his country has worked hard to achieve since 2003.
This is not the first time Erdoğan has used the UN General Assembly as a platform to address Turkey’s policies in the region. In 2019, he famously presented a map of Syria during the course of his speech. Bedran Çiya Kurd, co-chair of the Foreign Relations Department of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), has stated that the main aim of this map was to change the demographic composition of the region and erase the Kurdish identity. He also pointed to the establishment of dozens of settlements on the land of Kurdish citizens in Afrin, which he said was part of Turkey’s ongoing occupation and operations towards demographic change .
Erdoğan has consistently questioned the role of global powers in Syria, but critics argue that his interests in the region, particularly its oil reserves, present a contrasting perspective.