Turkey's desire is for the European Union to open legal migration routes for Syrians within the framework of fair burden and responsibility sharing, to activate the voluntary humanitarian admission mechanism with concrete commitments and to increase resettlement quotas, Vice President Fuat Oktay said Tuesday.
Oktay attended a financial agreement signing ceremony within the scope of the EU's financial assistance program for refugees in Turkey, held at the ATO Congressium in the capital, Ankara.
In his speech there, Oktay stated that population movements and irregular migration affect the whole world, regardless of country, and said that migration waves created by those who were forcibly displaced due to political turmoil have become a challenge faced by many states, especially those in conflict zones.
He said that the number of migrants in the world exceeds 272 million today, of which 82.5 million are forcibly displaced. The reason for the most serious wave of forced migration since the Second World War is the Syrian crisis right next to Turkey.
“As a natural consequence of our 911-kilometer-long (566-mile-long) Syrian border, nearly 4 million of our Syrian brothers and sisters, who fled from terror and persecution, have taken refuge in Turkey. Our country has been a safe harbor and a compassionate home for many communities who have been in distress or persecuted for centuries. Today, we fulfill this historic responsibility by hosting millions of our brothers and sisters safely in our country
"The policy of allowing all kinds of asylum seekers and refugees to enter Turkey on the one hand and never leaving on the other is neither sustainable nor humanitarian," he said.
He also added that Turkey has been sadly watching the attitudes towards migrants in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and how humanity has fallen behind.
"I express by underlining this word, I say 'We are watching.' We are watching, especially the European Union, the United Nations, each member of the European Union," he stated.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world. Officials say the country cannot handle another refugee wave.
In March 2016, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal has been successful in stemming the flow of migrants and refugees, but the EU’s reluctance to take in refugees from Turkey, and bureaucratic hurdles in transferring promised funds for refugees, have led to sharp criticism from Turkish politicians.
Ankara criticized the EU for failing to fulfill its pledge to provide funding for migrants and refugees in Turkey as part of the pact while allocating billions of euros to Greece.
Five years on, the pact is failing as Turkey struggles with increased numbers of migrants, while the EU is more divided than ever over its asylum policy.
"The proposed new financial aid package is for Syrian refugees, not Turkey, and is essentially a step to be taken to ensure the EU's own peace and security. Reducing migration cooperation to just a financial dimension is a big mistake. Aiming for close cooperation in this area would be beneficial for everyone," it said.
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