Top officials discuss Russia-Ukraine war, security concerns at UN summit


Top officials participating in the United Nations summit, highlighting the impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict, the security concerns in the Middle East as well as the situation of diaspora Kurds in Sweden and Finland amidst extradition pressure from Turkey.

The annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City is overshadowed by a tense world where conflicts continue to multiply, the war in Ukraine nears its eighth month, talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear teal and other pressing matters.

Triggered by the conflict in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to join the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) in May. Member state Turkey objected the countries’ bid to join the alliance, accusing them of harboring sympathizers and supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

It asked both countries to hand over individuals whom Ankara considers a threat to national security.

Kurdish citizens of Finland have the "full protection” of the state, Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s foreign minister told Rudaw’s Roj Eli Zalla and Majeed Gly while attending the summit.

"Kurdish people who are citizens of Finland, of course, have the full rights of the Finnish citizens and also full protection of the Finnish state,” Haavisto said. 

Turkey, Sweden, and Finland signed a trilateral memorandum in Madrid in June, under which the Nordic countries would "address” Turkey’s extradition requests and establish a legal framework for facilitating the process once Turkey has provided evidence of their "terror” background.

The top official stated that the countries were still debating the definition of "terrorism”, and that Helsinki and Moscow were following their national legislations when it comes to such matters.

A top Swedish official told Rudaw earlier in the month that Sweden will stand up for the rights of Kurds. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the possibility of nuclear or chemical warfare triggered Finland and Sweden to submit their bids to join NATO, said the Finnish official, adding that the ratification process of their enrollment has been "rapid.”

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, leading to a global incline in food, oil, and petrol prices as exports from the neighboring countries diminished due to the war, in addition to worldwide distress over the prospect of nuclear escalation.

Bolivian President Luis Arce also shared concern over the conflict in Ukraine and the impact of the war on the Latin American country despite it occurring on a different continent, saying Bolivia was not immune to the effects.

"I think a conflict of this nature has had effects in all countries. Bolivia like all countries has seen an increase in prices of oil,” Arce said adding "Bolivia is an exporter and importer of gas, and it is having a negative effect on us like all other countries that are importing at ever-increasingly high prices.”

The UN’s high-level meeting is overshadowed by a tense world where conflicts continue to multiply around the world and the war in Ukraine nears its eighth month.

Arce said that they have taken measures to curb the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war through subsidizing barrels of oil and producing their own fertilizers, which have helped prevent "inflationary pressures” in the country.

He added that the "world is concerned” in light of the ever-growing threat imposed by the conflict, saying they have proposed active participation of the UN in the matter "before it is too late.”

Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, denied the notion that the war in Ukraine has "distracted” the EU from the security concerns of the Middle East with the Canadian foreign minister echoing similar remarks. 

Canada is "very closely" monitoring developments in the region as it aims for "stability and peace," Melanie Joly said. 

Among the issues of the Middle East, Borrell emphasized on Iran's nuclear deal.

"In this case, certainly you cannot blame the European Union for not paying a lot of attention to this problem,” the EU coordinator for the Vienna talks said, adding that he and his team have spent countless hours trying to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Tehran and Washington have engaged in talks for over a year aimed at securing a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with no success.

In return for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has demanded that the US lifts its sanctions on the country, including those on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the US has designated as a terrorist organization.

"Unhappily for the time being we have not got a final result. We were close to it. We are still close to it. Let’s see what happens in the next days and weeks,” Borrell added.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, believing it was too lenient on Iran, and pursued a "maximum pressure” campaign of heavy sanctions on Tehran, in hopes of achieving a new deal that would also allow for monitoring Iran’s ballistic missile program.


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