Erdogan says EU late to recognise Turkey’s refugee role

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says EU has been late to recognise Turkey’s important role in dealing with refugee crisis

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen giving a speech at a conference in Istanbul on Oct.16.

President Tayyip Erdogan said in a conference on Friday that the European Union (EU) has been late to recognise Turkey’s significant role in slowing the refugee flow from Syria to Europe. 

Erdogan said that Europe had finally realised the scale of the refugee crisis when images emerged of the body of three-year old Aylan Kurdi washed on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum last month

"When that toddler Aylan washed up on the Bodrum shores, they started using that photo on the front of their magazines and started questioning themselves, but remember how long have we been shouting and calling for attention? In Turkey now there are 2.2 million Syrians alone. There are 300,000 Iraqis," Erdogan said.

Erdogan added that, "We have spent $8 billion until now. How much support did the world give us? Only $417 million."

"The West and Europe's security and stability is contingent on our security and stability. They have accepted this now. In the talks I held in Brussels last week, they accepted all this. It can't happen without Turkey," he added.

Erdogan also accused the EU of being insincere, saying, "So if it [a solution to the refugee crisis] can't happen without Turkey, why don't you take Turkey into the EU? The problem is clear but they are not open. They are not clear."

Erdogan’s statements came after the EU offered Turkey almost €3 million in aid, liberalisation of visas and “re-energised” talks over joining the EU in return for Turkey’s help in stopping the flow of refugees.

European Council President, Donald Tusk said that "our intensified meetings with Turkish leaders ... in the last couple of weeks were devoted to one goal: stemming the migratory flows that go via Turkey to the EU. The action plan is a major step in this direction."

After the meeting in Brussels ended Turkey was offered a precipitated path to visa-free travel into EU countries for its citizens.

However, this would depend on Ankara providing assistance to slow the flow of refugees into Europe and this will be reviewed next spring.

EU talks should not be a matter of political bribery

AK Party Spokesman Omer Celik also criticised the EU's stance on Friday, saying that "The opening of new chapters in Turkey's European Union accession process should not be a matter of 'political bribery."

Celik said that talks with the European Union are still continuing and nothing had been concluded yet with respect to the handling of the refugee crisis.

Celik also said that the migration crisis and Turkey’s negotiations for EU membership were two separate issues and the EU talks should not be "a matter of political bribery."

Moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu on Friday slammed an EU offer of financial help to Turkey to ease the migrant crisis as unacceptable

Sinirlioglu said the action plan agreed in Brussels was a draft and not final.

He said "There is a financial package proposed by the EU and we told them it is unacceptable," adding that Turkey needed at least 3 billion euros ($3.4 bn) in the first year of the agreement.

He also said that the action plan agreed with the EU late on Thursday is "not final" and merely a draft on which they are working.


TRTWorld and agencies