UNGA 2020: Turkey's Erdogan challenges international law legitimacy

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has challenged the international community, suggesting that his country would not be restrained by international law in its Eastern Mediterranean expansion.

Mr Erdogan told the UN General Assembly that Turkey’s threats of expansion into the area would be conducted with “sincere dialogue” and on an “equitable basis”.

Turkey and Greece and been in a dispute over maritime control and drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean since early summer.

Ankara claims it has greater rights to maritime waters than those set out by existing international treaties and upheld by the EU.

“Turkey is a country that is compelled to shoulder the burden of any negative developments in the Eastern Mediterranean by itself,” Mr Erdogan said in a recorded video message.

“On the other hand, ignoring our country when it comes to natural resources in the region can be explained neither by wisdom and conscience, nor by international law.”

Last month Turkey said any attempt by Greece to expand its maritime border from six to 12 nautical miles in some islands would be an “act of war”.

Greece’s Aegean islands lie within a few miles of Turkey’s borders.

“I would like to clearly state that we will never tolerate any imposition, harassment or attack,” Mr Erdogan said.

“I would like to repeat here our call for establishing dialogue and co-operation between coastal countries of Eastern Mediterranean.”

He proposed a regional conference, controversially including Turkish Cypriots as a separate entity, in which “the rights and interests of all the countries of the region are considered”.

Despite celebrating the UN’s 75th anniversary, Mr Erdogan launched an unapologetic attack on the world body, claiming it had been “ineffective” in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It took weeks, even months for the Security Council, the most fundamental decision making body of the United Nations, to include the pandemic on its agenda,” he said.

“We must rapidly implement comprehensive and meaningful reforms, starting with the restructuring of the Security Council.

“We must provide the council with a more effective democratic transparent and accountable structure and functioning.

"Likewise, we should strengthen the General Assembly, which reflects the common conscious of the international community.”

Mr Erdogan also criticised “some European countries” for breaching the rights of refugees, in particular from Libya.

He has been at loggerheads with France over Turkish support for the government in the west of Libya through weapons, troops, trainers and Syrian mercenaries.

Turkey's interference Libya has been widely condemned by the international community.

Mr Erdogan said the long-running civil war in the country could only be resolved by a political agreement.

“We believe that a permanent political solution in Libya can be established through an inclusive and comprehensive dialogue conducted by the Libyans,” he said.

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UNGA 2020 day two, in pictures:

US President Donald (on screen), as he addresses the general debate of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly. AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Xi Jinping, China's president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer. Bloomberg

United States President Donald Trump speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

A statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen in the empty arrivals hall at United Nations headquarters during the 75th annual UN General Assembly high level debate. Reuters

A UN police officer stands at an empty entrance at the United Nations. AFP

Dian Triansyah Djani, left, permanent representative of Indonesia to the UN, takes a photo with Kairat Umarov, centre, permanent representative of Kazakhstan and Tijjani Muhammad-Bande former president of the General Assembly. UN via AP

US President Donald Trump (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

President of of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

Donald Trump, president of the United States, speaks in a pre-recorded message. UN via AP

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping appearing by video link at the United Nations 75th anniversary is seen on an outdoor screen as pedestrians walk past below in Beijing on September 22, 2020. AFP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV Via AP

Representatives of different countries listen to speakers during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks in a pre-recorded message. UNTV via AP

United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, of Turkey, speaks during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, top, speaks in a pre-recorded message being played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Updated: September 23, 2020 02:31 AM

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