Turkey to go to UN General Assembly with full agenda

September 15, 2011, Thursday/ 17:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

A Turkish delegation led by the Turkish prime minister is set to depart for New York next week to participate in the UN General Assembly, which will commence on Tuesday for the 66th time, with an agenda that is filled with groundbreaking developments from all over the world.

Among the top priorities of the Turkish delegation, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and including Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, is the Palestinian bid for international recognition of its sovereignty and the Cyprus issue that has hindered Turkey’s relations with its allies in the European Union and the UN for decades.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay acknowledged in an interview with private CNNTürk on Wednesday that a meeting is likely to take place between US President Barack Obama and Erdoğan on the sidelines of the UN meetings. Noting that the request for such a meeting came from the US side, Atalay suggested that the meeting would cover a whole range of topics, “including terror related issues,” where the minister speculated the issue of northern Iraq would be brought up. The Global Counterterrorism Forum, a fresh initiative by Turkey and US that was announced last week, is also expected to kick off in New York.

Erdoğan is scheduled to address the 193-member UN General Assembly, in addition to having bilateral and multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday, citing diplomatic sources. Turkey is also readying to participate in projected Libya sessions in relation to the reconstruction process. The UN sessions are also expected to devote a large amount of time to developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Turkish delegation is expected to closely follow developments regarding the Palestinian efforts at the UN. Although the Palestinian bid for recognition at the UN is speculated to be one of the leading topics of the high-level sessions, the strategy the Palestinian officials may pursue at the UN remains unknown. Palestine is expected to apply to either the Security Council for recognition, or to the General Assembly, where such a bid is likely to pass with approval from the majority. However, the Palestinian strategy in the General Assembly leads only to a non-member observer state, much like the position currently held by the Vatican.

Turkish diplomatic sources cited in the same Anatolia report also acknowledged that a UN-led report on last year’s flotilla raid which resulted in casualties of Turkish peace activists in an assault by Israeli commandoes to divert their Gaza-bound ship was not submitted either to the General Assembly or the Security Council. The early September leak of the so-called Palmer Report before its official release date brought Turkish sanctions on Israel, which refused to comply with Turkish demands for an apology, compensation and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. Turkish sources claimed the reason for the absence of the report on the UN scene to be the fact that the report also failed to satisfy Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Issues topping the Turkish agenda also include the famine in the Horn of Africa, counterterrorism and the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAoC), a UN initiative co-sponsored by Turkey and Spain. Turkey will also be devoting particular attention to the prevention of the spread of nuclear arms and cooperation in Asia. The country is expected to engage in a high volume of contacts with the UN nations along with its bid for temporary membership in the UN Security Council during the 2015-2016 term.

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