License picture” alt=”Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described himself as a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License picture“/>
September 20 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described himself as a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York.
“We believe that war will never have a triumph and that a fair peace process will have no loser,” he added. Erdoğan said during his address.
“We always stress the importance of diplomacy in resolving the dispute.”
The opening of the 77th UN General Assembly marks the first time the international body has held an entirely in-person meeting in three years.
Erdogan said in says PBS NewsHour in an interview that he expects any end of hostilities to include a return of all Russian-occupied territory to Ukraine
“The lands that were invaded will be returned to Ukraine,” he said.
“This is what we expect. This is what we want. Putin has taken certain measures. We have taken certain measures. An invasion cannot be justified.”
Attempting to appeal to all parties, Erdogan called on the international community to support a Turkish-led initiative.
“And we would like to appeal to all international organizations and all countries in the world to support (Turkey’s) peaceful initiatives to settle this dispute once and for all,” Erdoğan said, trying to position himself as a neutral peace broker.
“We need a dignified exit from this crisis. And that can only be achieved through a diplomatic solution that is rational, fair and enforceable.”
Turkey helped facilitate a deal between Russia and Ukraine in July to allow the movement of large Ukrainian grain shipments stuck in Black Sea ports for months.
The stalemate threatened global food security. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate agreements in Turkey that allowed grain shipments to resume and Russia to export grain and fertilizer.
The grain shortage came as the number of refugees around the world continued to rise, far beyond those forced out of Ukraine by the fighting.
Erdogan broached the subject, following recent comments by his country’s foreign minister calling for an internal solution to Syria’s ongoing civil war. The situation has forced millions of refugees to flee the country and risk their lives in an attempt to find safety.
Turkey currently has around 4 million Syrian refugees on its soil.
Erdogan called on the international community to “extend the decision supporting the aid mechanism set up in northwestern Syria”, adding that his country has built 100,000 permanent residences to help refugees, with plans for another 200,000.
At the same time, the president criticized neighboring Greece, calling the country “tyrants” for its approach to handling the refugee crisis.
“Greece unfortunately pushes back these refugees in an illegal and tyrannical way, turning the Aegean Sea into a graveyard for refugees,” it said on Tuesday.