The Bashar Assad regime and Russia hold the primary and overriding responsibility for the human suffering in Syria, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said during a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday.
“As NATO, we support Turkey's call for cease-fire in Syria,” Raab stated following a bilateral and inter-delegation meeting with Turkish officials, stressing that the reason of his visit was to show solidarity to Turkey and to underline the friendship between the two countries in these difficult days after Turkey lost more than 30 soldiers in an attack conducted by the Assad regime in northwestern Syria.
Reiterating that Turkey is hosting millions of refugees, Raab also said cooperation is needed regarding international responsibilities. Further elaborating that the U.K. had called on the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on the Idlib crisis, Raab said: “For decades Turkey has been a staunch ally to NATO and one of its largest contributors in military personnel. We support Turkey’s efforts to re-establish the cease-fire agreed in 2018 and protect those innocent civilians fleeing the regime’s monstrous assault.”
The foreign secretary condemned the attacks of Russia and the Assad regime and raised concerns regarding the escalation in his first official visit to Turkey as foreign secretary.
EU countries have the obligation to take the applications for the protection of refugees coming to their doors and providing this protection for those eligible, just as Turkey has fulfilled its own obligations until today, Çavuşoğlu stated, indicating the harsh responses given to refugees trying to cross to Europe through Greece.
He further stressed that the EU has to respect human rights and that the treatment toward refugees was not sustainable.
Thousands of migrants have been forced to sleep in the open, some since Friday, exposed to the elements and in temperatures close to freezing in the border province of Edirne in northwestern Turkey.
As a “measure” against the crossings, Greece border police use tear gas and stun grenades. Apart from the tear gas and grenades, the police also arrested dozens of refugees for attempting to enter the country.
Last week, Turkish authorities announced that they would no longer prevent the flow of migrants who wanted to reach Europe.
The decision was made after 36 Turkish soldiers were killed by Bashar Assad regime forces in Idlib in northwestern Syria. The Turkish soldiers were deployed to the region to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited.
Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million migrants from Syria alone, more than any other country in the world.
The nation has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.
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