UK foreign minister appreciates Turkey’s role in preventing flow of foreign fighters
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
ANKARA Jan 23, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
Jan 23, 2015 12:00 am
Turkey's role in ebbing the flow of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has been praised by the U.K.'s Minister of Foreign Affairs Philip Hammond, who said that Turkey is "doing a great job" in hindering the flow from European countries.
Hammond underlined the critical position of Turkey in the fight against the flow of foreign fighters and appreciated the country's role, calling it "a remarkable effort." Pointing out the urgency of the situation and Turkey's challenge in stemming it, he said: "We have to help them by making sure that we deal with the transit points, we deal with our own ports of exit. But the Turks are doing a great job."
Considering what Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said about the complexity of the Turkish-Syrian border yesterday, Hammond pointed out the same fact: "The Turkish prime minister this morning has said, correctly, that he can't seal the border between Turkey and Syria. It's too complex a border for that."
In an interview with The Times, Davutoğlu said that sealing off the 937-kilometer border was not only unworkable, but would only lead to further criticism as refugees would not be able to flee the violence. "We can close the border, but who will save the refugees, who will give them a safe haven?" he said, and added: "It's a 937-kilometre border, it's impossible to do. We can't put a soldier on every inch."
Turkey continues to maintain its determined attitude in the fight against the flow of foreign fighters. Addressing a weekly briefing at the headquarters of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ankara on Wednesday, spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said Turkey had so far deported 1,056 people who had come from abroad and tried to enter Syria illegally. "We have a list that contains 7,833 people from 90 countries who are suspected of trying to join ISIS," Bilgiç said.
Almost a quarter of foreign fighters who have been recruited recently by ISIS are of European nationality. According to data given released by the EU's law-enforcement agency Europol, it is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 12,000 foreign fighters in the ISIS terrorist group.
Turkey's cooperation with the U.K. in preventing the flow of foreign fighters, meanwhile, is getting stronger with each passing day. Indicating that Turkey and Britain will stand shoulder-to-shoulder against challenges such as terrorism and racism, Davutoğlu said: "The future of our continent now faces challenges like terrorism, racism and other type of challenges," before attending a private meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Ministerial Office.
During his visit last month, Cameron called for more intelligence sharing between the two countries to block the flow of foreign fighters, including British citizens, into Syria to join ISIS ranks.
He said: "Whether it is about stopping people coming through Turkey to Syria or Iraq to fight for [ISIS], whether it is about making sure we deal with people when they return; whether it is the highest level of intelligence cooperation that we can possibly achieve between our countries. This is all about making sure people are safer in Turkey and in the U.K. We are already strong and should get stronger."