President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led a busy week of diplomacy in New York as part of the 78th United Nations General Assembly and delivered his 13th speech to the body with meaningful messages regarding the world’s current challenges.
In fact, Erdoğan’s 13 speeches, the first of which he delivered in 2005 as Prime Minister of Turkey, have been quite consistent and are even a repetition of his most overarching messages – namely UN reform, fight against terrorism, Karabakh and Syria. But what has changed this year is that more and more countries have started to think and express concerns similar to those that Turkey has been raising for years. The global agenda has begun to synchronize with Ankara’s calls.
During this session, the General Assembly increasingly expressed and questioned the influence and relevance of the UN, as global stability was disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has led to disadvantages for food security. This was reflected in the speeches of key heads of state and speakers at the 78th session. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has drawn attention to the fact that the world is moving towards a multipolar world, which needs “strong and effective multilateral institutions”, and said that institutions such as the UN Security Council and the Bretton Woods system reflect the realities of 1945, when many countries currently represented in the UN were still non-existent or under colonial control. “The world has changed. Our institutions have not,” he stressed. The voice of Africa and president of the 55-member African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani, also called for “in-depth reform of the United Nations system”.
“Africa – where 3.8 billion people will live by the end of the century – has the right to be permanently represented,” he said. But voices from the West – not among the five permanent members of the Security Council who have veto power – have also addressed the issue. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the composition of the Security Council is the clearest example of how the organization currently does not represent the reality of a multipolar world, emphasizing that Africa, Asia and Latin America deserve greater representation.
Besides the issue of UN reform, Erdoğan raised nine other discussion points that constitute the priorities of Turkish politics. In his speech to the UN, the president spoke for the first time about the institution of the family and the need to preserve it, as well as the rise of Islamophobia, racism and attacks on sacred values, development and climate change, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Black Sea Grains Initiative, the situation in Libya, the need for a solution to the Palestinian question and its vitality for peace in the wider Middle East region, instabilities persisting in Iraq and Syria as well as the fight against terrorism in these countries, the emphasis on the fact that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and finally a call for recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in order to achieve cooperation and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean.
While there is synchronization between Turkey’s and other countries’ views on change within the UN, Ankara’s argument to keep the avenues of dialogue with Russia open to find a solution to war and its side effects is also increasingly recognized. The world has seen that with the failure of the grain deal, ignoring Russia and its prospects leads nowhere. That is why Turkey, while emphasizing Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, declared that it would continue dialogue with all parties.
On the Karabakh issue, which saw renewed tensions within the General Assembly, Erdoğan had already stressed in his previous speeches at the UN that the Karabakh issue could not remain unresolved, like a frozen conflict awaiting to break out and called on the members of the General Assembly to find a solution. which would recognize these territories as those of Azerbaijan. However, it was only after Ankara and Baku stepped up their efforts in 2020 that the unjust status quo was broken and the region now has the chance, after decades, to enter a new period that will result in greater harmony in the South Caucasus. , increased regional cooperation and trade as well as development for Karabakh residents, whether Armenian or Azerbaijani.
Another constant issue raised by Erdoğan is the recognition of the TRNC, the absence of which causes permanent unrest over the issues of sharing energy resources and maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean. Here too, opinions are evolving and the need to relaunch negotiations between the two parts of the island is recognized. Although there is still some way to go, a former British foreign minister recently advocated a two-state solution as a key alternative to reaching a settlement, while the Greek Cypriot administration called on the UN to restart negotiations. talks, saying: “It is high time for the United Nations to become a driving force in dialogue by, as a first step, appointing an envoy for the Cyprus problem to explore and prepare the ground for the resumption of negotiations. If a common understanding of the applicability of a two-state solution could be reached with the Greek Cypriots and the European Union, both communities would benefit from more harmonious and constructive relations than those of the current rivalry, thus contributing to their development .
Another distinctive aspect of this year’s General Assembly for Turkey was a reflection of the diplomatic normalization efforts carried out in recent years. Erdoğan met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and confirmed a roadmap for realizing a positive agenda. Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two leaders agreed to continue advancing bilateral relations in the areas of trade, economics and energy, while also discussing normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Likewise, Turkey’s top diplomat, Hakan Fidan, also participated in bilateral meetings with his counterparts, especially Egyptian ones.
The regional normalization dynamic in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean affects not only Turkey but also its other neighbors. Driven by a diminished US presence accelerated by its catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, a pandemic that has led to both human losses and serious economic and trade consequences as well as growing global challenges, countries in the region have understood that cooperation regional is essential in the face of technical changes on a global scale.
Ankara also advocates expanding regional trade routes, hand-in-hand development, expanded energy cooperation and diplomatic synchronization for a common response to common problems.