The U.S. administration has lost its role as a mediator in the Middle East with its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.
Erdogan’s comments came in his address at the Chatham House — a London-based think tank — on the day the U.S. administration said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem.
“We once again reject this decision, which is violating international law and conflicting with the UN decisions,” he said.
Monday also coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment in 1948 — an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or the “The Catastrophe”.
"We cannot stop feeling like being in dark days of pre-World War II," Erdogan said on the U.S. Embassy move.
U.S. President Donald Trump sparked international outcry last December when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowed to relocate Washington's embassy to the city.
He also spoke about several regional and international conflicts.
'Good terrorist, bad terrorist'
"The international community must act fast to end Israel’s rising aggression by fulfilling its responsibilities.
“If Shakespeare was alive and rewrote his Hamlet today, I believe he would have made Prince Hamlet say the same thing: ‘The time is out of joint’," Erdogan said, quoting the famous English bard.
"It is not possible to say anything else after seeing more than 50 people getting killed by snipers after being specifically targeted in Palestine — just in the last few weeks — and about 1,000 wounded people, who wanted nothing else but to go back to their homes,” he said.
“Ask a father who works for under $1 per day and tries to look after his family! Can he say anything else?
“Words fail to describe the miserable conditions of millions of people in Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan."
He added the international community had been unable to reach a consensus in the fight against terrorism due to the stance: “Your terrorist is bad, my terrorist is good”.
Erdogan underlined that Turkey had neutralized 3,000 Daesh terrorists during Operation Euphrates Shield between 2016 and 2017 in Syria.
“We have denied entry to our country to more than 63,000 people suspected of having links to Daesh, deported nearly 6,200 individuals who are suspected of having links with terrorist organizations and had entered our country illegally, and detained more than 12,000 others, arresting 3,563 of them.”
On Turkey’s fight against PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist organization, Erdogan said: “We have cleared and are still clearing Afrin region of those terrorists.”
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin, northwestern Syria, amid growing threats from the region.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the Afrin town center, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK terrorists since 2012.
He said the only way to ensure the repatriation of more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, currently living in Turkey, is to make Syria safe again.
Pointing out that Turkey had spent $31 billion on refugees, so far, without any significant support from any other country and especially from the EU, Erdogan said refugees do not return to areas controlled by terror organizations supported by allies.
He said the PKK/YPG terrorist organization was camouflaging itself with Kurdism or Kurds to con the world and they control the region called Ayn al-Arab/Kobani.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue to fight against terrorist organizations in a principled way.
Turkish president said 4,000 sq km of area was cleared of terrorists during Turkey’s operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Tree, and the work carried out with Russia and Iran for the security of Idlib region was now at a significant stage.
He said Turkey acted with great sensitivity by not harming any civilian during the operations; however, the picture is different in all regions of Syria was different as the powers of countries, which are acting with both regime forces and terrorists.
He said he was in “great sorrow” over the violence in eastern Gouta and Douma.
Yemen and Libya
Erdogan said the crisis in Yemen had become a more complicated problem in its fourth year.
“We are in favor of an inclusive political solution based on Yemen’s territorial integrity,” he said.
He added terrorist organizations such as Daesh and al-Qaeda benefit from the humanitarian crisis and chaos in this country.
On Libya, Erdogan said Turkey supports the Libyan people, presidency council and the national consensus government trying to establish an agreement and to reconstruct the country.
Erdogan said Turkey was continuing its struggle against Fetullah Terrorist Organization; the crimes of this organization, including the July 15 defeated coup were just the tip of the iceberg.
“The ambitions of this organization… threaten the whole world,” he said, calling all countries, including the U.K., to deport back the members of FETO to Turkey.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, especially the military, police, and judiciary.
Erdogan reiterated his previous calls that the UN Security Council should be formed in a rotating system of the 196 member states, saying “if we are looking for justice and if the UN is established on justice, we need to do as necessary”.
“We will either become each other’s wolf and eat and finish up one another or we will find a remedy to our problems together.”
"The world is bigger than five [UN Security Council permanent members]," he added.
He also pointed out that Turkey leads the world in humanitarian aid if the aids were calculated in proportion to national gross income, and it is followed by the U.S. and U.K.
About Turkey’s aspirations to gain EU membership, the Turkish president said Turkey has a historical depth in its relations with Europe.
He said Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities in a sincere way from the start but the negotiation process has been politicized and hardened.
Erdogan also said Turkey sees the Balkans not as a region of influence but as a region of cooperation.
On the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said the Turkish side, with strong support from Turkey, has shown effort towards a solution in the last half-a-century.
“But if the Greek side insists on their one-sided hydrocarbon activities in Eastern Mediterranean, security and stability in the region will be under constant danger,” he said.
“I am saying this openly and clearly,” he added.
President Erdogan will continue his U.K. visit and he will meet Prince of Wales and British investors in separate meetings on Monday.
He will also meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday.