Dictator defends occupation and demands oil revenues in Geneva

The 1st Global Refugee Forum has begun in Geneva with the participation of 120 countries. The controversial guest Erdoğan has defended the occupation of Northern Syria and demanded that the income from oil production be used for demographic change.

The 1st Global Refugee Forum hosted by the UNHCR has begun at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Geneva.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and representatives of 120 UN member states take part in the Forum, which is taking place for the first time. The two-day event aims to find solutions to the global refugee crisis and to strengthen cooperation between countries that receive refugees. The forum is intended to serve the worldwide implementation of the refugee pact adopted by the UN in New York a year ago.

The Forum was opened by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi, both of whom called attention to the worldwide refugee crisis and called for solutions.

Speaking after, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out the ongoing displacement of numerous people because of wars, conflicts, poverty and other reasons, and the problems faced by millions of refugees in the countries where they seek shelter.

Guterres called on international community to take on responsibility in the face of basic issues experienced all around the globe, like the refugee crisis and climate change.

According to figures announced by Guterres, there are as many as 70 million people displaced from their homes and 25 percent of these live as refugees.

Afterwards, the presidents of Costa Rica, Pakistan and Ethiopia as well as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the forum.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people protested against Erdoğan in front of the UN headquarters. He arrived 45 minutes late for the conference and defended in his speech the occupation of Northern Syria. Turkey has received the most refugees in the world and is one of the countries with the best living conditions for refugees, the Turkish president claimed. He argued that Turkey is taking care of all the needs of the Syrian refugees in the country and is supported neither by Europe nor by the UN.

In spite of the numerous serious massacres committed by the Turkish state in North-East Syria, Erdoğan blamed the West for the bloodshed and death in the country and boasted of the occupation of Northern Syria: "With the operations Euphrates Shield', ‘Olive Branch’ and ‘Peace Spring’ we have turned a total area of 8200 square kilometres in Syria into a safe zone.”

Erdoğan called for support from the international community and also demanded to be given the oil in the area controlled by the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria: "Let's get the oil out of the oil wells in this area together. Let's settle refugees in the areas we've liberated and use the income from oil production for this project."

The Turkish president banned any criticism of the war crimes committed by his country in Northern Syria and claimed that the territories he occupied were the safest in Syria. In these supposedly safe regions, systematic looting, executions, torture, arbitrary arrests and violent expulsions take place. These facts have been substantiated by various international human rights institutions.