The world is facing a wave of inflation triggered by extraordinary developments in global commodity prices, Turkey's president said on Wednesday.
"As humanity, we've felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic very deeply in every area of our lives," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message to the 37th Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Imbalances between demand and supply on a global scale led to the surging commodity prices, Erdogan told the meeting being held in Istanbul, Turkey, noting that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Prices Index saw the 10-year-high increasing by 31.5% in October.
The IMF's All Commodity Price Index increased by 74% in October, while energy prices jumped by 175% and non-energy commodity prices by 20.5%, he added.
Erdogan underlined that natural resource wastage had jeopardized food production and food security and noted that the 8th OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development, also hosted by Turkey last month, had hosted talks on relates issues, including on the agricultural sector, rural development, food waste and reserves, water management, and an OIC strategic products action plan.
"We need to create permanent solutions for issues such as poverty, migration, and climate change that threaten our future. We need to utilize the platforms we have in the most effective way and develop joint policies and programs," he added.
Erdogan highlighted that plans for a preferential trade system to be in force as of July next year were at the top of COMCEC's trade agenda.
"With the participation of the states that are not yet a party to the system, we will carry intra-organizational trade to a much higher level. Our goal is to increase the share of our mutual trade to 25% in our total trade," he said.
Product development efforts under the 50 Shariah Index are also bearing fruit, exemplified by the creation of the index's stock fund by the Turkish Ziraat Portfolio as a concrete investment tool, said the Turkish leader.
The 50 Shariah Index was designed in 2012 by COMCEC to provide a Shariah-compliant benchmark.
Erdogan stressed that this year's ministerial session would discuss the role of Islamic finance in supporting micro-, small-, and medium-sized businesses against COVID-19.
He added: "In the meetings held on technical issues, I attach great importance to the sharing of knowledge, experience, and knowledge-based policy activities by our experts.
"It's also crucial to implement the concrete policy recommendations developed by the working group."
'OIC should prioritize continued humanitarian aid to Afghanistan'
Erdogan noted that COMCEC had agreed on 42 projects across 20 countries, emphasizing the importance of training young people in the field of management across the Muslim world.
Muslim countries are struggling with the effects of a variety of issues from the coronavirus pandemic to terrorism, poverty, internal conflicts, and migration, he said.
"As members of the OIC, we need to strengthen our economic cooperation on the one hand, we need to provide the necessary political, humanitarian, financial, and legal support to our brotherly countries on the other."
Erdogan underscored the need for solidarity with Afghanistan, adding that maintaining humanitarian aid to the country facing "serious crisis under winter conditions," should be a priority.
On Aug. 17, two days after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, the US government froze about $9.5 billion of Afghanistan's central bank assets. Many donors and international organizations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have stopped making payments to the interim Taliban regime.
The UN forecasts that around 22.8 million people, or over half of Afghanistan's population, will face severe food problems, with the Human Rights Watch warning earlier this month that the country was facing famine.
The watchdog urged the UN and international financial institutions to urgently adjust existing restrictions and sanctions affecting Afghanistan's economy and banking sector.
'Two-state solution key to lasting peace, stability in Palestine'
President Erdogan further expressed support for the Palestinian cause and added: "As the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, we must refrain from any action that could weaken the Palestinian cause."
"We must put an end to Israel's policies of illegal resettlement, destruction, forced displacement, confiscation, and evacuation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank," said Erdogan, noting that establishing a two-state solution within international parameters would be key to "lasting peace and stability."
Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade that has deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of vital commodities, including food, fuel, and medicine.
Jewish settlers in occupied Palestinian territories also frequently cut down or set fire to olive trees, the main source of income for Palestinian farmers in the West Bank.
Settlers attack farmers, especially during the olive harvest season.
There are more than 250 illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.
Nearly 450,000 settlers living in those areas make life more difficult for Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank.
According to international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.
Issues facing OIC across world
Drawing attention to increasing Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racist rhetoric in many countries, especially in Europe, in recent years, Erdogan stressed that the OIC must act together and boost cooperation to combat such issues.
He also took note of the ongoing humanitarian crisis that Rohingya people are suffering, saying: "It isn't possible to reach a solution and peace in Arakan (Rakhine) without the safe, voluntary, and honorable return of the Rohingya to Myanmar."
Around 1.2 million Rohingya who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State live in the world's largest refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
On Syria, Erdogan said the international community has yet to end the atrocities there and added that a permanent solution that protects the country's territorial integrity and provides for the safe return of civilians was necessary.
Turkey's fight against terror groups such as Daesh/ISIS and the PKK/YPG, which pose threats to Syria's territorial integrity and national security, will "continue with determination," he affirmed.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.
Erdogan also expressed Turkey's continuing support for establishing permanent stability, peace, and prosperity in Libya. He further said his country was monitoring the "situation of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region with great sensitivity."
"On this occasion, I once again underline our (Turkey's) expectation that our organization will show sensitivity in this regard (Uyghurs) in line with its founding purposes," he added.
China has been accused by several countries of ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, but denies any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as "lies and (a) political virus."/aa