Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday presented UN Secretary-General António Guterres with a plan for resettling hundreds-of-thousands of Syrian refugees, in the wake of the country’s operation into northeastern Syria last month to create a “safe zone” along the border for returnees.
The UN chief was on a visit to Turkey, and in a statement following their bilateral meeting, both he and President Erdogan expressed their “full backing” for the on-going Syria Constitutional Committee meetings, which constitute the first face-to-face talks between Government and opposition from the war-torn country in nearly nine years of brutal civil war.
“The Secretary-General expressed his deep appreciation for the strong cooperation and support of Turkey to the United Nations”, the statement issued by the UN Spokesperson’s Office said, following which, the Turkish leader outlined his Government’s plan for reportedly returning up to two million of the roughly 3.6 million Syrian refugees who have found sanctuary over the border since 2011.
UNHCR to study Erdogan proposal
“The Secretary-General stressed the basic principles relating to the voluntary, safe and dignified of return of refugees. He informed the President that UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) will immediately form a team to study the proposal and engage in discussions with Turkish authorities, in line with its mandate.”
Apart from Syria, President Erdogan and Mr. Guterres also had “a constructive exchange of views on a number of ongoing situations in the region, including Yemen, Libya and the Middle East peace process, as well several additional issues of mutual concern in other parts of the world.”