Erdogan arrives at the UN with an eye on the migrant crisis

During his stay in New York, the Turkish president will also meet with the Greek prime minister, with whom he shares a similar stance on refugees
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PHOTO/ASAMBLEA GENERAL DE LA ONU  -   File photo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 24, 2019.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is travelling to the United States to take part in the UN summit on food systems. The Turkish leader has announced that he will also address other issues of importance to the Eurasian country. The migration crisis will be one of the main points on Erdogan's agenda when he arrives in New York. "Of course we will have a message about migrants, because we are the ones who carry the heaviest burden," he said at a press conference prior to the trip.  He will also urge Western countries to become more involved in the issue.

Turkey hosts nearly four million Syrian refugees and is now also preparing for a possible exodus from Afghanistan. However, according to official Turkish figures, there are already 182,000 registered Afghans in the country, while it is estimated that up to 120,000 may be residing illegally. Ankara has reinforced its eastern border, going so far as to build a border fence with Iran. "Turkey is nobody's gatekeeper", Erdogan declared, assuring that he would not accept a new wave of refugees.

The Afghan issue will undoubtedly also be present at the meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly. Since US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Erdogan has insisted on administering Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport.

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REUTERS/MURAD SEZER - Migrants, mainly from Afghanistan, are detained by Turkish security forces during an operation in the border town of Van, Turkey, late 21 August 2021.

Ankara, following Washington's withdrawal, is seeking to expand its influence in the region. Afghanistan, in addition to its key geographical position, possesses a large reserve of valuable minerals and metals. This treasure trove has already made other countries such as China look ambitiously at Afghanistan and, in order to take advantage of the territory's wealth, begin to engage in dialogue with the Taliban.

Turkey, for its part, maintains its diplomatic presence in Kabul and has already held official talks with Taliban leaders. Moreover, Erdogan said that, if necessary, the talks would be repeated. Before leaving for New York, when asked about humanitarian support for Afghanistan, Erdogan said that Turkey would never hesitate to send humanitarian aid "to friendly countries".

Turkey's role in Afghanistan has also served to bring it closer to the US after several years of tensions, although there are still many disagreements between the two countries.

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PHOTO/HARRON SABAWOON/AGENCIA ANADOLU - File photo, Turkish soldiers patrol at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Afghanistan, 9 February 2015.
Erdogan to meet Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis

The Turkish president will take advantage of the UN summit to hold a bilateral meeting with his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. "We need to see what steps the other parties need to take," Erdogan said. Despite the many disputes between Ankara and Athens in different areas, Mitsotakis recently called Turkey an "important partner in addressing any new migration challenges".

Likewise, Erdogan and Mitsotakis have similar views on the refugee crisis. The Greek authorities, like the Turkish authorities, have also reinforced the borders by building new walls or increasing existing ones. Mitsotakis said he and Erdogan "agree" that "it is important to keep potential refugees and asylum seekers as close as possible to their country of origin".

The Turkish president is also expected to hold meetings with other political leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson, reports the Daily Sabah.

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PHOTO/ Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office via REUTERS - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021.
Erdogan calls for a "fairer" world order

"I will emphasise Turkey's strong support for multilateralism and the goal of establishing a fairer world order," Erdogan said before flying to the United States. "I will share our views on key issues on the UN agenda. From the General Assembly I will express our approach to the challenges that threaten all of humanity," he added.

The Turkish President has also announced that he will present his book "A More Just World is Possible" to world leaders at the General Assembly. The book has been translated into several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, French and Russian. The book addresses, among other things, discrimination, emphasising Islamophobia and denouncing the double standards of the international community.

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PHOTO/AP - Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey

The book also discusses possible changes to the UN, such as the reform of the Security Council under the phrase "the world is bigger than five". Turkey has long been an advocate of change within the exclusive UN body.

During his stay in Manhattan, Erdogan will inaugurate the "Turkish House" (Türkevi), a building across the street from the UN headquarters. The Turkish House "will house diplomatic representations and the representation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", Erdogan said. He will also meet with representatives of the Turkish and Muslim communities in the United States and attend a dinner with the Turkish American Business Council (TAIK).