Opening European doorway to refugees 'not a bluff'

2019/09/645x344-1567803517630-1567840078.jpg
Read: 824     11:48     07 September 2019    

Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Friday that Turkey's warning about opening the gates of Europe to refugees was "neither a threat nor a bluff." Speaking to the Sabah newspaper on a plane ride to Italy where he will attend the Ambrosetti Forum, Vice President Oktay underlined the limits of Turkey's capacity to host refugees.


His remarks came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that Turkey could "open its doors" to let Syrian refugees cross to Europe if Ankara does not get the expected support in the face of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Idlib. Oktay said the thinking that Turkey will bear a new migrant flow is "wrong." He also added that Turkey is not any other country's guardian and it won't pay the bill for the crises that other countries create. Noting that Turkey and Russia established 15 observation points in Idlib as part of the Sochi deal, he said that the regime violated the deal in the region.

"In response to the regime's intensified attacks, Turkey will reciprocate if Turkish security forces are targeted," he added. "Russia's approval and U.S. bombing have turned Idlib into a circle of fire. We are concerned; there are thousands of deaths. We see that Idlib is being destroyed like Aleppo."

The escalating violence in Idlib has shattered a deal reached in September 2018 between Russia and Turkey to establish a buffer zone.

Despite eight months of calm provided by the deal, the regime, backed by Moscow, intensified its attacks starting on April 26 under the pretext of fighting the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorists holed up in Idlib. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, taking more civilian lives with each passing day.

Hosting nearly 3.6 million refugees from Syria, Ankara often warns the international community and regional countries that a new offensive could trigger a fresh refugee wave toward the West.

Commenting on the presence of foreign fighters in northern Syria, Oktay said: "We do not want civilians to pay the bill of involvement of various groups in Idlib. Displacing people who found a place is not meaningful. It does not contribute to the solution, but the problem."

He also criticized Western countries and said they are now trying to clear terrorist elements that were exported by them. "Foreign fighters should be extradited to their countries, and these countries should do what is necessary," he added.

Regarding the ongoing ceasefire in the region, Oktay said that Turkey is concerned with its own national security first and it uses diplomatic channels effectively. "There is an ongoing ceasefire. However, it is very fragile. We talked about this with the U.S., Russia, Iran and Europe. We do not classify terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist. We do not want to use hard power in every case, but we won't hesitate to do so," he added.

Oktay also evaluated a possible new migration wave from Idlib and said, "If the clashes continue, there are more than 500,000 civilians who were already mobilized, and this number can reach 1 million. Their movement direction is Turkey. We are already hosting 3.65 million Syrians. We do not have the capacity to host 1 million more."

Oktay criticized the European Union, saying it is trying to gain time. He added that the financial aid that came from Europe was only 2.06 billion euros ($2.28 million).



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News Line

Opening European doorway to refugees 'not a bluff'

2019/09/645x344-1567803517630-1567840078.jpg
Read: 825     11:48     07 September 2019    

Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Friday that Turkey's warning about opening the gates of Europe to refugees was "neither a threat nor a bluff." Speaking to the Sabah newspaper on a plane ride to Italy where he will attend the Ambrosetti Forum, Vice President Oktay underlined the limits of Turkey's capacity to host refugees.


His remarks came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that Turkey could "open its doors" to let Syrian refugees cross to Europe if Ankara does not get the expected support in the face of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Idlib. Oktay said the thinking that Turkey will bear a new migrant flow is "wrong." He also added that Turkey is not any other country's guardian and it won't pay the bill for the crises that other countries create. Noting that Turkey and Russia established 15 observation points in Idlib as part of the Sochi deal, he said that the regime violated the deal in the region.

"In response to the regime's intensified attacks, Turkey will reciprocate if Turkish security forces are targeted," he added. "Russia's approval and U.S. bombing have turned Idlib into a circle of fire. We are concerned; there are thousands of deaths. We see that Idlib is being destroyed like Aleppo."

The escalating violence in Idlib has shattered a deal reached in September 2018 between Russia and Turkey to establish a buffer zone.

Despite eight months of calm provided by the deal, the regime, backed by Moscow, intensified its attacks starting on April 26 under the pretext of fighting the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorists holed up in Idlib. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, taking more civilian lives with each passing day.

Hosting nearly 3.6 million refugees from Syria, Ankara often warns the international community and regional countries that a new offensive could trigger a fresh refugee wave toward the West.

Commenting on the presence of foreign fighters in northern Syria, Oktay said: "We do not want civilians to pay the bill of involvement of various groups in Idlib. Displacing people who found a place is not meaningful. It does not contribute to the solution, but the problem."

He also criticized Western countries and said they are now trying to clear terrorist elements that were exported by them. "Foreign fighters should be extradited to their countries, and these countries should do what is necessary," he added.

Regarding the ongoing ceasefire in the region, Oktay said that Turkey is concerned with its own national security first and it uses diplomatic channels effectively. "There is an ongoing ceasefire. However, it is very fragile. We talked about this with the U.S., Russia, Iran and Europe. We do not classify terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist. We do not want to use hard power in every case, but we won't hesitate to do so," he added.

Oktay also evaluated a possible new migration wave from Idlib and said, "If the clashes continue, there are more than 500,000 civilians who were already mobilized, and this number can reach 1 million. Their movement direction is Turkey. We are already hosting 3.65 million Syrians. We do not have the capacity to host 1 million more."

Oktay criticized the European Union, saying it is trying to gain time. He added that the financial aid that came from Europe was only 2.06 billion euros ($2.28 million).



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