Turkish president criticizes EU for not doing enough to solve refugee crisis, calls for buffer zone at Turkish-Syrian border.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed Monday the need for Europe and Turkey to cooperate to provide solutions to the refugee crisis, all the while addressing pointed remarks to the former for not doing enough.
Erdogan was in Brussels, speaking at a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk.
"It is impossible 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 with respect to our region."
Erdogan’s visit to Brussels comes weeks after the EU pledged at least 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries last month.
With Turkey having spent $7.5 billion on sheltering refugees since the start of the conflict in Syria, Erdogan said his country had only received $417 million in foreign aid.
"From the very beginning, Turkey has shouldered this burden on behalf of the international community and showed its humanitarian and conscientious position," Erdogan said.
Erdogan said Turkey had 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 against certain European leaders who have openly said they were reluctant to accept certain refugees, of which most are from Middle Eastern countries.
While Slovakia has made clear it will only accept Christian refugees and not Muslims, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban has described the influx of refugees as a threat to Europe’s "Christian roots" and responded to the crisis by erecting a fence on its southern border with Serbia.
Faced with the worst migrant crisis since World War II, the EU has expressed its willingness to help Turkey integrate more migrants on its soil in order to prevent mass inflows of refugees arriving in neighboring Greece.
"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," European Council President Donald Tusk said.
But Erdogan, stressing that the root cause of the migrant crisis was the war in Syria, once again reiterated his calls for a buffer zone, used as an area to host refugees, and a no-fly zone on the Turkish-Syrian border.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said following his meeting with Erdogan that such a measure had to be decided by the United Nations Security Council.
- 'No good terrorist versus bad terrorist'
Erdogan also called on EU member states to take a tougher stance against the PKK.
"PYD [Democratic Union Party, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK] is a terrorist organization like the PKK and they work together. We cannot speak of good terrorist versus bad terrorist," Erdogan said.
"ISIL is a terrorist organization and so are the PYD and the PKK. I wholeheartedly believe [our] European friends will show sensitivity to this point," Erdogan said.
Renewed violence in Turkey has come in the wake of July 20 Suruc bombing, which left dozens of people dead. The incident was blamed on ISIL. The subsequent PKK-linked murder of two Turkish police officers at their home sparked a new wave of conflict in the country.
The fighting has seen the collapse of a fragile cease-fire which began early 2013 and was dubbed the “solution process”.
Resource: World Bulletin, October 06, 2015