UN chief thanks Turkey for hosting refugees

UN, Antonio Guterres, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria, Refugee Crisis, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus
UN chief Antonio Guterres and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Ankara, 11 February 2017, (c) AA

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres is on a two-day visit to Turkey and his first to the country as head of the UN.

Guterres met with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Istanbul on Friday. In a joint statement, the former Portuguese prime minister thanked Turkey for its role in holding the Astana Conference. “It is now very important to have in Geneva, discussions that go to the substance of the issues and allow for a political solution,” Guterres said.

The Secretary-General commented on the UN-supported Conference for Cyprus, of which Turkey is one of the guarantors hoping for, “A breakthrough able to fully respect the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community about its security but, at the same time, compatible with the concerns of the Greek Cypriot community.”

Although the accomplishment of a final agreement has never been reached, the UN chief also reiterated the importance of the idea for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine saying, “It is absolutely essential to avoid unilateral actions that undermine the possibility of that two-state solution.”

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres was received by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Saturday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, who was also in the meeting made a written statement saying Erdogan and Guterres had agreed on showing a “joint stance against terror.”

According to Kalin, Guterres also called Turkey “a very important country” and thanked Erdogan for his hospitality towards refugees from Iraq and Syria.

The two also reportedly agreed on working together for a solution in Cyprus and Syria.

It is not known whether the UN chief addressed Turkey’s blocking of a human rights investigation by the UN into allegations of human rights violations in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast in 2016.

Critics have also accused the Turkish government of using the refugee crisis to blackmail the European Union into making political concessions. Others have also said Turkey is partly responsible for the situation, due to the negative role it has played in the Syria crisis.

Turkey has said the EU is not doing enough to support Ankara in dealing with the 2.3m refugees currently in the country and that promised financial support is being withheld.