Erdogan says no peace, stability in Mideast with dictators
Turkish prime minister has blasted authoritarian rulers in the Middle East, claiming that they are the chief obstacle in achieving peace and stability in the region in a message he released for a UN conference in Doha, Today's Zaman reported.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his recorded video messages for the UN's Alliance of Civilization's meeting in Doha on Sunday, said until there are dictators in the Middle East who shower their people with gunfire, mass killing their own people, not tolerating to every kind of opposing view and actions, peace and stability will not be restored.
Erdogan, whose government was relatively silent in the face of unrest sweeping across the Middle East, has sharpened his tone against authoritarian rulers, including Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad, whom he called "a good friend of mine" earlier this year.
He urged the solution of what he said "chronic problems" of the Middle East to not only restore peace in the region but also all across the world. "Bloodshed and tears must end in the Middle East," Erdogan told participants from more than 130 countries, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Erdogan also slammed Israel without mentioning its name, and said without its state terror, peace and stability will not come to the region. He recalled the previous gathering of the Alliance of Civilizations in Rio last year, which followed an Israeli lethal raid into Mavi Marmara ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza to breach the Gaza blockade Turkey says is illegal.
"While we were struggling for global peace, prosperity and justice in Rio, peace, prosperity and international law was violated, sabotaged in the Mediterranean," Erdogan stressed, referring to Israel's Mavi Marmara raid that left nine Turkish civilians dead.
Erdogan said before launching the initiative with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a report released by a special commission underlined that there is a need to establish an alliance of civilizations and that the primary element that is escalating tension is a Middle East problem - a perennial conflict between Israel and Arabs.
"Peace won't be seen in the offing while state terror continues, peace efforts are sabotaged, bombs are pounding on innocent children, innocent people are imprisoned in open-air penitentiaries," Erdogan said.
Erdogan could not attend the Doha meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations because he had a minor surgery last week and his doctors advised him to rest some more time.
Erdogan also expressed his disappointment over a US decision to cut off funding for the UN cultural agency because it approved a Palestinian bid for full membership.
The US cut off funding for UNESCO recently due to a congressional restriction on funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.
The US did not make a $60 million payment to UNESCO it planned to make in November.
Deputy Prime Minister Beshir Atalay, who is representing Erdoğan in the conference, met with UN chief Ban in Doha, where the secretary general urged additional financial assistance to the Alliance of Civilizations.
In a statement released by UN spokesperson's office, Ban had talks with Atalay and Spanish deputy Prime Minister Manuel Chavez. The statement said the officials discussed ways to increase the funding the of the initiative and complete ongoing projects.
The statement also added that the officials discussed possible repercussions of the Arab Spring on the Alliance of Civilization project and that they agreed that the Alliance is a significant project that needs to be advanced.
Atalay told reporters following his meeting with Ban that he had very useful talks with the secretary general.