For most of the Christian world, today is a very meaningful day.
Tonight, Christian families will begin celebrating the birthday of Jesus, together with their families under pine trees they have decorated. They are going to give presents to each other. They will attend Mass in the churches and they will pray. Churches will again hold Mass tomorrow. In all these congregations they will pray for a better world, peace, serenity and good health.
Our wish is the same. From the bottom of our hearts, we say "May God accept these prayers."
But the reality is bitter.
While the Christians, especially in Europe, will be enjoying Christmas in the presence of decorated pine trees, adorned with presents in their homes, in shimmering cities where the avenues are brightened by lights decorating windows and gardens, people in Syria will be trying to flee from death in the cold to save their lives.
While in Europe, the church bells will be rung for Christmas, in Syria, people will try to reach Turkey along dark pathways.
If they can't escape, they will be burned by the barrel bombs of the bloody-handed dictator of Syria. The city they were living in, Idlib, has been destroyed. Their houses are destroyed. There is no water in Idlib. No electricity. No gas. Despite all of that, they resisted withdrawing from their homes. Now they are leaving Idlib to secure the last thing that is left in their hands: their lives.
Because, starting with Europe, the world left them alone. Now, they must escape from Idlib. They are trying to reach the secure zone along the border of the only country that is supporting the downtrodden in Syria: Turkey. They don't have any other choice.
Europe – which only watched what was happening in Syria, especially in Idlib – is now going to try and do everything in its power to not take these refugees in, those who have narrowly escaped with their lives.
Here is the situation in Greece. When the president of the Green Party in Germany suggested that "at least we should take the children in Greece into Germany," all hell was raised. The German internal affairs minister responded by saying, "We should improve the conditions in Greece" – during the Christmas season!
The Turkish president made another statement on Sunday. He stated that over 80,000 refugees are migrating to the Turkish border from Idlib. "Due to the latest massacre in Idlib, where over 4 million people live, serious movements have begun yet again in these areas. Over 80,000 of our brothers, escaping from the bombardment, began migrating to our borders. If the violence toward the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will only increase. In such circumstances, Turkey will not shoulder the burden of such a migration alone," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, calling once again on European countries to help.
The Turkish president once again reminded how dire the situation is, "We will keep repeating, especially to rich Western countries, that the sea is dried out and it will no longer be possible for them to escape from the refugee problem."
Yes, no one should trust Turkey anymore to hold back the refugee flow. Turkey did all in its power in the case of the refugees.
Turkey no longer has space or the funds to receive more refugees. Turkey, which saw the breadth that this issue would eventually reach years ago, created safe zones in northern Syria for these refugees by fighting against terrorist organizations. Turkey eradicated Daesh in these areas.
While Turkey was fighting the PKK's Syrian extension the YPG, some Western countries unjustly criticized Turkey, and some even supported this terrorist organization by not labeling it as one.
Despite this, Turkey fought against the PKK and YPG with determination and banished them from northern Syria. Now, thanks to this, over 1 million refugees are able to live along the border of Turkey without being attacked. However, the living conditions are harsh and emergency aid is needed amid the bitter winter.
Starting with the European Union, all European countries have to help Syrian refugees living along Turkey's border. The Turkish Red Crescent is doing all in its power. But, more is needed.
If Europeans are able to celebrate Christmas in peace in Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Bern, Prague and many more cities, they should not forget that this is all thanks to Turkey.
If the safe zones Turkey created had not existed, right now at least 1 million refugees would be on Europe's doorstep.
We think that it is necessary to remind of this reality while prayers are being offered on Christmas night.