Turkish PM says open door policy for refugees will continue

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says country’s open door policy for Syrian refugees will continue as their number tops 2.7 million

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu says Turkey will continue welcoming refugees.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that Turkey would maintain its open door policy as the number of refugees in the country tops 2.7 million.

"We supported our Syrian brothers who were exposed to cruelty from the first day and we continue to support them today. Turkey has kept its doors open to all mistreated Syrians since March 2011 without making a distinction between their religion, language or ethnic background. As of today, the number of Syrian brothers we host in our country has risen to 2.7 million," Davutoglu said in a televised address.

"Our stance has been clear from the beginning. We will keep our stance until the end. Our open door policy will continue for our brothers and sisters who were massacred and raped. The international community, especially the United States and Russia, should now start to act sincerely and face reality," he added.

Davutoglu's remarks comes as tens of thousands of stranded refugees are being hosted in camps on the Syrian border, across from the Turkish town of Kilis, after Russian war planes bombed around the Syrian city of Aleppo in support of a regime offensive to recapture the city.

Ankara has long pushed for the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria to protect displaced civilians however the proposal has so far gained little traction with Washington or NATO allies who fear it would require an internationally patrolled no-fly zone which could put them in direct confrontation with Assad and his allies.

Davutoglu also touched upon YPG’s cross-border fire and reiterated that Turkey would continue to defend its borders as he accused Russia of trying to establish a "terror zone" on Turkey's border with Syria.

"Precautions should be taken against terrorist organisations who take this opportunity to increase their influence in the region by receiving the support of some countries," he said.

"Russia, Syrian regime, PKK and the YPG stood shoulder to shoulder and they want to establish a terror zone, a terrorist structure on Turkey's southern border. We are aware of these games aiming to form a terrorist structure on the border neighbouring Turkey. We will not allow this. We will not hesitate for even for one second to protect Turkey's national security," he said.

Last week, a cessation-of-hostilities deal in Syria was agreed on by Washington and Moscow. It is the latest in a series of diplomatic efforts ostensibly aimed at ending the conflict, which will soon enter its sixth year.

The cessation of hostilities, the first of its kind since the war began in 2011, is a less formal arrangement than a ceasefire. It is meant to allow peace talks to resume and aid to reach besieged communities.

The United Nations estimates demonstrate that there are almost 500,000 people living under siege, out of a total of 4.6 million, who are living in difficult conditions to receive aid, but it hopes that the current cessation of hostilities will bring an end to the 15 sieges.

The UN also hopes that the cessation of hostilities agreement can precede a more formal ceasefire.

The plan does not apply to DAESH and the Al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, which Moscow and the Syrian regime have said they will continue to target. The opposition fears they will use this as a pretext to target moderate opposition groups.

TRTWorld and agencies