Turkish PM calls for 'Syria without Assad' in UN address
Anyone thinking of any solution to the Syrian conflict must think of a Syria without Bashar al-Assad, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday, calling the embattled president "a vicious tyrant", Anadolu Agency reported.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York, Davutoglu said the Syrian tragedy would not end unless the country had a legitimate government.
"Every minute [Assad] stays in power adds on the shame of those who support him," he said.
Davutoglu's remarks came at a time of heightened international debate about Assad's future, with Russia and Iran actively backing their ally. Turkey, the US and others have insisted that Assad must leave office.
Earlier Wednesday, the upper house of Russia's parliament voted unanimously to give President Vladimir Putin the authority to deploy the country's armed forces in Syria, followed by the country's first airstrikes against positions associated with the Daesh militant group.
"The number of Syrians who fled chemical weapons, missiles and indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Assad regime and ground assault by the terrorist organization Daesh has exceeded 4 million. And more than 12 million internally displaced, almost half of which are children, are in desperate need of help," Davutoglu said.
"This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. Until then, the international community must act swiftly to provide them safety in their homeland, a 'safe area', free from aerial bombardment by the regime and ground assault by Daesh and other terrorist organizations," he added.
Syria's devastating civil war, now in its fifth year, has claimed more than 250,000 lives, according to UN figures, and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people.
Davutoglu also said the UN Security Council has failed to adapt to the global changes in the past 70 years and called for reform in the 15-member body.
"Despite the major steps taken so far to adapt it to new global realities, any UN reform will remain incomplete unless we are also able to reform the Security Council", he said.
"Seventy years ago, the founders of this organization tasked it with the mission of protecting the dignity, security and prosperity of the whole mankind. This task today requires the ability to take firm and decisive action against the atrocities committed by aggressors everywhere".
The structure of the 15-member Council is facing criticism for the overriding influence of permanent members whose national interests regularly trump action in humanitarian crises, most recently in Syria and Ukraine.
Many have described the privileges held by the five permanent members -- the U.K., China, France, Russia and the U.S. -- anachronistic and far from representative of the cultural and geopolitical realities of the world.
"Inability to do so would not only jeopardize the lives of millions affected by the ongoing crisis. It would also threaten all future generations by putting into question the credibility of the UN system," Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu also pointed out that short-term security interests should not block efforts to address the migrant and refugee crisis.
"Solution to migration can only be attained if the root causes such as wars and conflicts, human rights violations, and economic deprivation in many of the origin countries are prevented," Davutoglu said at a migration summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The region is facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, with thousands of asylum seekers from Middle Eastern and African countries trying to flee war and persecution.
The majority of the refugees are Syrians fleeing a four-and-a-half year civil war that has claimed more than 250,000 lives and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people.
Hosting more than 2 million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis, Turkey now shelters the largest number of refugees in the world, according to the UN refugee agency.
"In some Turkish cities on the border, now Syrians are more than Turks. In Kilis, for example, the percentage of Syrians are 54 percent and Turks became minority," Davutoglu said. "I am really proud of my people. Until now there was no single anti-Syrian or anti-migrant demonstration or protest in Turkey."
He urged the international community, however, to do more to share the burden faced by Syria's neighbors.
"It is neither possible nor just to expect from Turkey or the neighboring countries to face the migratory pressures, risks and threats alone," he said.
The UN agency says 1 million Syrian refugees are hosted by Lebanon, 629,000 by Jordan and 250,000 by Iraq.
Earlier this month, "Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers" was added to the agenda of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly upon Turkey's request.