Erdogan requests cooperation from Europe over refugee crisis

Turkish President Erdogan calls for cooperation between Europe and Turkey, repeating need for safe zone within Syria

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish President Erdogan and European Parliament President Martin Schulz shake hands ahead of a meeting at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Oct. 5, 2015

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasised the need for Europe and Turkey to cooperate to provide solutions to the refugee crisis on Monday, speaking at a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels.

Erdogan also criticised the European Union for "not doing enough" concerning the refugee issue in his speech.

"It is not possible to consider the fate and future of Europe as being separate from Turkey," he said.

"It is in the interest of both parties to have comprehensive discussions and to develop joint common policies regarding our region."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with leading European Union (EU) officials on Monday to discuss how to ease the refugee crisis.

Erdogan also visited the European Parliament (EP), expressing his contentment with "the official visit to this essential institution of the European Union."

The president also held talks with EP President Martin Schulz and said that "I believe that the European Parliament will play a big role in strengthening the friendly relations and partnerships between Turkey and the European Union."

Erdogan’s visit to Brussels came after the EU pledged at least 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries last month.

Erdogan said his country had only received $417 million in foreign aid for the refugees while spending $7.5 billion on sheltering refugees since the start of the conflict in Syria.

The Turkish President said, "From the very beginning, Turkey has shouldered this burden on behalf of the international community and shown its humanitarian and conscientious position."  

Erdogan added that Turkey has been opening its doors to refugees fleeing Syria without any discrimination.  

"We never discriminated against them by saying they’re Muslim, Yazidi or Christian; we accepted them all," he said in an apparent criticism of certain European leaders who have openly said they were reluctant to accept Muslim refugees.

European Council President Donald Tusk recently said, "the situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped; we cannot do it on our own, we need the Turkish side."

In response to these comments Erdogan once again reiterated his calls for a buffer zone to host refugees and a no-fly zone on the Turkish-Syrian border, stressing that the real cause of the migrant crisis was the war in Syria.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that such a measure had to be decided by the United Nations Security Council after his meeting with Erdogan

The EU is eager to cooperate with Turkey, home to the world’s largest refugee population of more than 2 million,  as it struggles to cope with the influx of refugees travelling through its borders everyday.

The European commission has been requesting its member states to increase and redirect EU financial assistance to support refugee housing, education and health services inside Turkey.

TRTWorld and agencies