Turkey urges EU to take responsibility for refugees

Turkey urges EU to take responsibility for refugees

Turkey urges EU to take responsibility for refugees

Turkey’s vice president urged the EU on July 6 to open legal migration routes for Syrians as part of the fair burden and responsibility sharing principle.

Fuat Oktay also appealed for member states to activate the voluntary humanitarian admission mechanism with concrete commitments and to increase the settlement quotas for refugees.

His comments came as he attended a signing ceremony of the Ilbank and Local Governments Sub-Financing Agreement as part of the EU's financial assistance program for refugees in Turkey at the ATO Congresium, an international convention and exhibition center in Ankara.

Oktay said nearly 4 million Syrian brothers and sisters, fleeing terror and persecution in Syria, have taken refuge in Turkey.

Turkey currently provides assistance and protection to 9 million victims, including internally displaced people within Syria's borders, said Oktay.

“We are sadly watching the attitudes towards immigrants in the Aegean and the Mediterranean and how humanity has failed to provide humanitarian support to them,” he noted.

Oktay accused the EU and UN of watching the human tragedy and not taking the necessary steps.

“The policy that allows all kinds of asylum seekers and refugees to enter Turkey, but never to leave, is neither sustainable nor humane,” he added.

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.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

EU to keep engaging with Turkey in 'faced, proportionate, reversible' manner

Engaging with Turkey in a “faced, proportionate and reversible” manner remains EU policy, said a leader of the bloc on Wednesday.

European Council President Charles Michel's remarks came at a session of the council on the results of last month’s EU Leaders’ Summit.

Noting that the summit focused on COVID-19, migration's effect on foreign policy, financial recovery, fundamental rights, and the rule of law, Michel said the recent de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece was a good sign.

Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over Athens’ excessive maritime territorial claims, with Turkey stressing fair sharing of the resources of the region. Amid the de-escalation, Turkey has decried provocative moves by Greece, including reserving Aegean waters for military drills at the height of the summer tourist season.

Michel added that the work on updating the 1995 Customs Union between Turkey and the bloc was launched, and that the EU Commission also agreed to provide extra funding for the millions of Syrians Turkey is hosting.

Turkey has long sought an update to the outmoded Customs Union, arguing that doing so would benefit both sides. After last month’s summit, Turkey criticized the EU for not taking concrete steps to start the process.