Addressing a session at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the current rule-based international system’s pillars are shaking amid multiple challenges.

He said Türkiye was ready to engage in more dialogue with the SCO while pointing out that the current system lost its legitimacy after inaction over the killing of thousands of children in Gaza by Israel.

The summit’s theme is the empowerment of multilateral dialogue for sustainable peace and development, and Erdoğan pointed out that it is appropriate for a time when an international system based on rules is shaken. “Challenges, from terrorism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, irregular migration, climate change, delays in supply chains, problems in energy and food security, only aggravate the ongoing geopolitical tremors,” he said.

“The latest tragic example of this (change) is in occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in Gaza. Indiscriminate attacks in Gaza have claimed the lives of about 40,000 innocent people and injured about 90,000 Palestinians,” he said.

“The debris that buried more than 16,000 innocent children is, as a matter of fact, debris of the international system that lost its legitimacy,” he said.

“Israel should be stopped and forced to accept a permanent cease-fire. To achieve this, more pressure should be exerted on Israel,” Erdoğan told heads of state.

Erdoğan often criticizes the Western countries for turning a blind eye to Israel’s war crimes in Gaza that amount to genocide. Long before the new round of conflict between Palestinians and Israel, Erdoğan was a staunch critic of the United Nations’ current structure where Western countries have more influence. He champions reforms in the U.N. and other international bodies under the motto of “the world is bigger than five,” in reference to the five members of the U.N. Security Council that have blocked attempts for peace in the Palestine-Israel conflict and others in the past.

“Certainly, we have principled countries raising their voice sincerely in the face of all crises the international order faces. We repeatedly highlight the weakness of the current order. We are working to build a new international system where the righteous ones are strong ones, instead of a world where strong (countries) claim they are right, a system to eradicate global injustice and fight economic inequality. Our goal is establishing a strip of peace in our region and beyond based on diplomacy based on humanitarian values,” he said.

The president said Türkiye knew very well the “bloody nature” of terrorism as it has fought against the PKK, its Syrian wing YPG, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and Daesh for years. “Our experience in counterterrorism shows international cooperation is essential to counter this threat. We are ready to strengthen our dialogue with the SCO to that extent,” he said.

Erdoğan also referred to Türkiye’s hosting of more than 4 million displaced people and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, as well as Afghanistan as he expressed Türkiye’s readiness to stir up “synergy” with the SCO in that field.

He cited Türkiye’s Asia Anew initiative to reinforce ties with “ancestral land Asia” in every field based on mutual benefit and priorities. “In this context, we attach importance to enhancing our relations with the SCO, which represents the ancient tradition of consultation in Asia and a multilateral ground for dialogue. We will continue our cooperation with the SCO to contribute to its goals, particularly in energy and interconnectedness,” he said.

Bilateral talks

On the sidelines of the summit, Erdoğan held talks in the past two days with his counterparts in Astana. On Wednesday, he held a trilateral meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. On Thursday, he first met Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh and later, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The meetings were closed to the press and officials did not comment on the topics the leaders discussed at the meeting in the hotel where Erdoğan was staying.

The Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications said Erdoğan and the Qatari emir discussed bilateral ties, Israel’s attacks on Palestine, the Israeli threat against Lebanon and other regional and international issues. Erdoğan highlighted the danger of spillover of Israel’s aggression into the wider region and urged the international community, the Islamic world in particular, to take swift steps to stop Israel. Erdoğan also emphasized the significance of increasing efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ensuring a steady flow of aid to the region, the statement by the directorate said. The directorate also said Erdoğan discussed bilateral ties, and regional and global issues in talks with the Mongolian president and underlined the importance of strengthening relations between the two countries, which have deep-rooted cultural and historical ties.

Later, he held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping before proceeding to another meeting with Belarus’ Aleksandr Lukashenko.

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