Deputy FM Yavuz Selim Kiran says Ankara has shared proof of Greece’s illegal pushbacks with international organisations, including the EU.

A young refugee holds a placard as she marches with health workers during a demonstration in Athens, Greece on February 23, 2021.
A young refugee holds a placard as she marches with health workers during a demonstration in Athens, Greece on February 23, 2021. (AFP)

Greece, in clear violation of a fundamental principle of the asylum law, pushed over 80,000 refugees back to Turkey in the last three years, the Turkish deputy foreign minister has said.

Delivering a speech at the Human Trafficking and Refugee Law seminar organised by Turkey's Justice Academy, a state body that trains prosecutors and judges, Yavuz Selim Kiran stressed the significance of international and regional cooperation in providing decent conditions for refugees.

"However, some countries do not hesitate to violate the essential principles of international law. We regretfully see that one of the fundamental principles of the refugee law, the principle of non-refoulement, is violated. In the last three years, Greece pushed back over 80,000 refugees back to our country," Kiran said.

Drawing attention to Turkey shouldering the responsibility in the recent humanitarian crisis that led to an inflow of refugees, Kiran said, "Turkey is the country hosting the most refugees in the world. Currently, over 4 million refugees, including around 3.6 million from Syria, live in Turkey."

"Turkey also provides much-needed humanitarian aid to around a total of 9 million Syrian refugees in the country and internally displaced people in Syria," he added.

Kiran said, "I want to underline a point here. We are mobilising all our resources not only to open the doors to those who escape from oppression and persecution but also to improve the living conditions of these people."

"Turkey has spent over $40 billion only for Syrian refugees," he added.

Drawing attention to the fact that the humanitarian crisis in Syria is a global issue, Kiran said, "Neighbouring countries cannot be left alone to bear the full burden of this crisis. 

In this regard, we reiterate our call to the international community for fair burden-sharing. We say that the needs of refugees can only be met permanently through international cooperation. Unfortunately, we cannot say that these calls have received sufficient response until today," he added.

READ MORE: Why Europe should help shoulder the refugee crisis with Turkey

EU's double-standard 

Turkey’s president has also criticised the EU’s double standard of supporting Greece on the issue of migrants but not sharing responsibility for 4 million refugees hosted by Turkey.

“While the EU gives Greece €3 billion ($3.65 billion) for 100,000 refugees, it did not shoulder its responsibility for 4 million refugees in Turkey,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a migration conference at a university in Turkey’s Izmir province.

An amount of €6 billion ($7.3 billion) in support to be allocated to Turkey under a March 2016 agreement is still not fully released, he said.

He added that refugees along the Turkish-Greek border have been openly persecuted by Greek security forces, resulting in shameful scenes.

“Humanity has failed (migrants) not only in the Mediterranean, but also in the Aegean and Meric River,” he said, citing the river along the Turkish-Greek border, stressing that in 2020 alone, the Greek coast guard committed 9,000 cases of illegal pushback of asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea.

“What happened in Syria showed us that raising the walls, fencing the borders with barbed wire, or even sinking the boats of migrants are not solutions,” he said.

Stressing his country's efforts for refugees and Syrian people, Erdogan said 420,000 refugees from the country have so far returned to the regions that Turkey cleared from terrorists.

READ MORE: Erdogan: 25,000 migrants have died crossing Mediterranean over eight years

Turkey's fight with terrorism

Erdogan said that approximately 85 percent of the world's refugee population is not hosted by wealthy states but by countries which are less developed.

“According to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, only 39,500 out of 1.4 million refugees waiting to be placed in third countries in the world in 2020 were resettled in 25 Western countries,” he said.

For over 500 years, the Turkish people have welcomed refugees, taking in migrants from various cultures and religions, he said.

“We did not turn down anyone who came to our borders over their ethnic identity, religion, culture, disposition or sect.”

Criticising US support for the YPG/PKK terrorist group, he said, “They do not care about refugees but still stand with terrorism and terrorists.”

“What kind of allies are these two countries (Turkey and the US) within NATO?”

"Turkey will continue to fight terrorism and terrorists everywhere, and will only open its heart [to those friends] as long as they act as friends," he added.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

The YPG/PKK has been documented as persecuting Syrians, including many would-be refugees, in northern Syria, along Turkey’s southern border.

READ MORE: Turkey’s foreign minister slams EU's indifference to Syria refugee crisis

Source: TRTWorld and agencies