Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday marked Human Rights Day on the anniversary of the UN General Assembly adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
In a statement released by the country's Communications Directorate, Erdogan stressed the continued importance of the declaration which he said reminds the international community of its responsibilities.
Asserting that Turkey built its administrative system on the principle of "let the people live, so the state may live," Erdogan underlined the need for an approach focused on the people rather than the state. He noted that, through reforms, Turkey eliminated many obstacles that restricted its citizens' rights and freedoms.
The Turkish leader underlined that by strengthening democracy, accelerating the functioning of law, and expanding the ways to seek rights, his administration carried the country to much higher standards in rights and freedoms since it came to office 18 years ago.
He also emphasized that the Turkish government continues its reforms in line with the demands and expectations of the nation and according to new emerging needs.
Today, cultural racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia pose the "greatest threat" to the UDHR, Erdogan said.
"With the COVID-19 pandemic, we see in Western societies that obstacles in exercising inalienable rights guaranteed by this declaration, especially freedom of belief and worship, are increasing. We are faced with a dire picture in which the fundamental freedoms of billions of Muslims, from their right to life to their right to a fair trial, are trampled. Sacred values are humiliated under the guise of freedom of expression, and the language of hate is encouraged at the level of media bodies and the country president," he added.
Underscoring that Turkey voices these threats on all international platforms in which it is a member, Erdogan said the country sought the full implementation of the declaration, regardless of race, religion or language.
"In the world that will be reshaped after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to restructure all policies on the axis of human rights and to develop effective mechanisms to eliminate injustices," he added.
He went on to say that Turkey, inspired by the history and civilizational values, will continue to struggle for the protection of fundamental freedoms and to be a ray of hope for millions of people who have not yet achieved their rights guaranteed by the UDHR 72 years ago.
Erdogan concluded by expressing hope that the coming days would bring health, peace, prosperity and tranquility to the whole world.