Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the July 15 coup attempt would not change Ankara’s commitment to a refugee deal with the European Union (EU).
“Turkey stands by its commitment with regard to refugees,” Erdogan said in an interview with German ARD television.
Turkey and the EU signed the deal March 18, which aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal included a $6.8 billion aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country.
“Ask them [the EU]. Did you pay? But Turkey still hosts 3 million people. What would Europe do if we let these people go to Europe,” Erdogan asked.
Erdogan told ARD television that while hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees in the world, Turkey has spent nearly $12 billion from the state budget to care for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.
He said the European Union has provided just around $2.2 billion for the refugees and stressed that Turkey would continue to take care Syrian refugees even if the European Union does not provide financial help.
During the interview, Erdogan criticised Europe for doing little in the face of terrorism.
He said that Ankara has fought against terror during the past 30-35 years, and accused Berlin of “seriously supporting” the PKK terror group.
“I handed over 4,000 dossiers to [German leader Angela Merkel]. When I asked her ‘what did you do?’ she told me judicial process is underway,” the Turkish president said.
He further said terrorists have continued to live in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, adding that although Turkey has provided intelligence on these people, they have not been handed over.
President Erdogan called on Europe for a joint effort against terrorism.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation also by the US and the EU — resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
Since then, nearly 600 security personnel, including troops, police officers and village guards have been martyred and more than 7,700 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.
While condemning the terror attacks in Europe, Erdogan said he would not accept the label “Islamic terror.”
Such a label would be an insult to all Muslims, according to the Turkish President.
Answering a question regarding the Turkish government's deliberation to bring back the death penalty for plotters of the deadly July 15 coup, Erdogan said in democracies the decision rested with the people.
He pointed out that the capital punishment was being practiced in many democratic countries outside Europe.