Turkey has the right and responsibility to protect its border from security threats, Lord Stuart Polak, a member of the U.K. House of Lords said yesterday.
In a meeting at an Istanbul-based nongovernmental organization, the Bosporus Center for Global Affairs, Polak, along with a few other House of Lords members, including Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Lord David Trimble and Lord James Arbuthnot, responded to questions from journalists regarding Turkey's cross-border operation to clear its border of PKK-affiliated groups - the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (YPG).
Recalling U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson's "Turkey has the right to protect its borders" comment on the issue, Polak said it is not just a right for Turkey, but also a responsibility to protect its border and maintain its citizens' security.Nobel laureate Lord David Trimble drew attention to Turkey's efforts on the refugee issue, criticizing the EU for failing to fulfill its promises.
"Turkey doesn't just care for refugees' basic needs, it also provides them education and employment, which give refugees the chance to earn their living. We were surprised when we heard about the EU's failure to deliver its promised amount," he said.
In March 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by implementing stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of Turkey's three million Syrian refugees.
The deal included a 3+3 billion euro aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country, and the EU promised to initially allocate 3 billion euros in its first tranche for projects to support Syrian refugees.
However, only about 1 billion euros have been transferred so far. Ankara says it has spent more than 20 billion euros of its own national resources to help and provide shelter to refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.Barones Neville-Jones said that Turkey and the U.K. should be regarded as strategic allies, adding that it is important for both countries to increase their bilateral trade volume as she recalled British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox's recent visit in Ankara.
In January, Fox met with Turkey's Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, and the two ministers indicated that maintaining existing relations after the Brexit process is of great importance.