Turkey’s leader, overseeing a nation encircled by regional disputes, used his speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20 to shine a spotlight on Turkish maneuvering in conflicts that span from Syria to Ukraine.
His speech focused on laying out his view of Türkiye’s role in the world. He said Turkey is “trying to be part of the solution” in conflicts around the world.
Touching on multiple hot -button issues, he spoke about the need for stability in Iraq, fair elections in Libya, food security in the Horn of Africa, the need for Palestinian statehood, the rights of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Uighur Muslims in China, and standing up to anti-Muslim sentiment globally.
His remarks also highlighted Turkey’s role in these many conflicts, either directly or indirectly.
“All these disasters affecting millions of people show the United Nations will have to be much more effective, much more influential,” he said.
Erdoğan has emerged as a key player in the Ukraine conflict. Turkey is a NATO member and has supplied Ukraine with lethal drones targeting Russian troops, but Erdoğan has also met multiple times with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey was a broker alongside the United Nations in securing the safe passage of Ukrainian grains exports through the Black Sea.
Turkey, he noted, has also hosted 4 million Syrian refugees in that country’s long-running war. At one point during his speech, Erdoğan held up a photo of dead Syrian refugee children who were pushed-back by Greek forces in the Aegean Sea.
He said the United Nations needs to be more inclusive _ and the Security Council should be more democratic and functional.
“The world is greater than five,” he said, referring to the Security Council’s five permanent members.