Turkey's President Erdogan slammed the EU's approach to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, saying Turkey embraced everyone without any discrimination while countries with better opportunities put quotas for them.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a video conference  in Ankara, Turkey on Jun 20, 2020.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a video conference in Ankara, Turkey on Jun 20, 2020. (AA)

Some 25,000 people, mostly women and children, have died in the Mediterranean Sea over the last eight years, Turkey's president said on Sunday.

“In the past eight years, 25,000 people, most of them women and children, died in the treacherous waters of Mediterranean,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in the closing ceremony of the International Migration Film Festival via videoconference.

He said those people set out with a hope for a safe future but most of the journeys ended up in death.

“Fate of some 10,000 Syrian children who sought asylum in Europe is unknown,” Erdogan added.

Erdogan said the migration issue has remained a global phenomenon as millions of people still have to leave their homes due to war, instability, terror and poverty.

“Today there are nearly 260 million migrants, more than 71 million displaced people and also over 25 million refugees in the world” he added.

He hoped the festival would assist in rethinking the root causes of displacement and migration and also raise awareness for the social, cultural, political and economic dimensions of the crisis. 

"Turkey embraces everyone without discrimination" 

Touching on the high number of refugees in Turkey, Erdogan said the country embraced everyone without discrimination, while countries with better opportunities placed quotas on them.

Turkey devised comprehensive policies for migrants from sheltering to health, education to social integration in order to facilitate their lives, Erdogan said, adding that those were all done with the country’s own resources as the EU and other countries did not provide support.

“Cinema is a powerful means to convey sorrows and joys of migration stories in an effective way,” Erdogan said.

He called on people to drop their prejudices about migration and become aware of the contributions migrants bring to countries and societies.

With Anadolu Agency being its global communication partner, the movie festival is supported by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, and organised by the Interior Ministry under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies