Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkır officially assumed the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday for its 75th session.
Bozkır is the first Turk to head the UNGA and will hold the post for one year.
He was first elected to the Turkish legislature in 2011, following nearly 40 years in the foreign service which included posts in Germany, New York, Baghdad and Romania.
In the 2000s, Bozkır was Turkey’s ambassador to the European Union and worked as deputy secretary-general and secretary-general for EU Affairs in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
He also served as Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs and chief negotiator for EU accession between 2014 and 2016.
But one thing that does not appear on Bozkir’s resume is the distinction of being a genocide denier– and George Horiates, the President of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) was quick to make that distinction in a strongly-worded letter.
AHEPA President George Horiates’ Full Op-Ed:
The President of the United Nations General Assembly is a Genocide-Denier
The UN marks its 75th anniversary with its opening session on September 15, 2020. When it gavels-in, the president who will be calling the UNGA to order will be Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkır, a Genocide-denier.
Bozkir refuses to admit to the great genocide of Christians – Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks – that remains a blight on Turkey’s past. In 2015, then-Turkish Minister for European Affairs Bozkir described Pope Francis’ statement as “history falsifying” and rejected Pope Francis’ statement over the 1915 incidents, which the pontiff described as genocide. “There is no period of time in Turkey’s history that it would be ashamed of. Efforts towards constituting an identity based on falsified documents will fail,” Bozkir said.
In 2019, each chamber of the U.S. Congress passed a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide with language acknowledging the great genocide of an estimated three million Christian minorities.
Further, Mr. Bozkir is representing a country, the Republic of Turkey, that suppresses religious liberty, stands in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions regarding its 1974 invasion and subsequent 46-year illegal occupation of the Republic of Cyprus.
This year, Turkey has invaded Syria, has supported Hamas, has been caught as a corrupt influencer with United States officials, has sent migrants to Europe’s borders by land and sea in a scheme to threaten the stability of the region and has violated the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus with exploitation and exploration for natural reserves that serves as a second invasion of Cyprus’ territorial integrity. Erdogan violates the territorial sovereignty of Greece on land, air and at sea, and refuses to follow international law with regards to the sovereign integrity of any of its bordering countries, including Syria. Turkey also has recently threatened Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Armenia, Egypt and yes even the United States militarily.
Recently, Turkey converted UNESCO-protected World Heritage sites, Hagia Sofia and The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, from museums to mosques. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, issued a swift response of condemnation against Turkey. Turkey’s actions are an indictment of Turkey’s judicial system following Erdogan’s purges and the diminished role and influence of Turkey’s secular community in Turkish society under the tyranny of the Erdogan regime. The selection of Bozkir to preside over the 75th anniversary of the UN is acquiescence as Turkey is not held accountable to the international bodies and conventions to which it is a signatory that stipulate Turkey’s responsibilities to preserve its rich cultural and religious heritage.
It is hypocrisy and mockery to elect an official to this position when its country of origin has so blatantly disrespected another UN branch, i.e. UNESCO on the topic of Hagia Sophia. It is also against every political and moral sense that a position like this is given to a country who threatens with war another country if it exerts certain rights provided by international law like extending its territorial waters from 6 to 12 miles. It is also unheard of when Turkey has active occupation forces in Cyprus. As an extension, the UN should forbid Turkish officials to run for any office, until they restore these monuments and show in practice change of policy on cultural, civil rights and international law issues.
Moreover, what does this say about the international body and its credibility when it comes to safeguarding the rule of law and human rights? At 75 years, the UN has in effect decided to celebrate and reward Turkey’s distinguished record on religious intolerance, human rights violations, and genocidal persecution of minorities. Congratulations.
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