FM: Int'l community's praise of Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees not enough
by Merve Aydoğan
GAZIANTEP, TurkeyJan 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
Jan 18, 2016 12:00 am
As the eighth annual Ambassadors Conference ended on Saturday in Turkey with a visit to the southeastern province of Gaziantep, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu made striking remarks on the necessity of ending the Assad regime, which has killed an estimate of 250,000 Syrian civilians and left 9,4 million people internally displaced or forced to flee their homeland. During his visit to Gaziantep, Minister Çavuşoğlu met with students and academics at Gaziantep University, along with a delegation including Turkish ambassadors, government officials, local authority and media members.
Commenting on the international community's praise for Turkey, Çavuşoğlu began by criticizing the international community for remaining indifferent to the Syrian crisis, and said that praising Turkey for hosting refugees is not enough. He said, "Everyone knows what Syrians and Iraqis need. Everyone knows the opportunities that Turkey has provided for them, but they [meaning the international community] remain distant." This statement may be referring to Italy holding back a EU-pledged 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in refugee aid promised to Turkey. He closed remarks by warning that if help is not extended to Turkey, then the refugees would leave for other countries.
Following meetings with the refugees, Çavuşoğlu gave a briefing to members of the media and made important remarks. "Turkey is trying to provide for all needs, especially work permits, for the Syrians in this country. However, we have, for the most part, prioritized medical and educational needs. As a country, we cannot allow an entire generation to perish; thus, we have provided education to nearly 300,000 refugees. We are aiming to increase these numbers throughout Turkey," he said. Çavuşoğlu further stated that Turkey has also conveyed these messages to its EU counterparts, noting that the monetary funds under the scope of the refugee action plan must be used in areas of education and health.
Underlining that the swamp (a term used by the minister to refer to the Assad regime) in Syria must be drained, Çavuşoğlu added that "the region must be cleared of DAESH and all other terrorist organizations, to which end there is a devoted strategy." While visiting a refugee camp in the Nizip district, the minister told reporters from the international media that the praise which the international community has offered Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees is not enough, adding that "if you [indicating the international community] do not extend your hand to the refugees in Turkey or do not cooperate with Turkey, these people will come to you."