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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.
UNGA 2020 day two, in pictures:
Updated: September 23, 2020 02:31 AM
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