Yıldırım slams EU for ‘failing to keep promises’ over refugees
“We made an agreement with the EU to prevent the passage of refugees. There are 3.5 million refugees in our country. We provide shelter for them, vaccinations, healthcare, so we requested a little contribution from the EU as well as new steps in accession negotiations with Turkey,” Yıldırım said in a speech at the Nueva Economic Forum in Madrid.
He added that Turkey demanded visa exemptions and an update of the Customs Union and “shook hands on this.”
“The daily migrant total has fallen below 50 but we have not received the answer we expected. Unfortunately, we are still disappointed,” Yıldırım said.
Under the key migrant deal signed in 2016 between Ankara and Brussels, Turkey agreed to take back illegal migrants and refugees leaving its shores for Greece in return for aid.
As part of the deal, the EU promised the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area if Ankara fulfilled a number of criteria.
The EU on March 14 unlocked a further 3 billion euros for refugees in Turkey, the second tranche of the deal.
Yıldırım said Ankara is still committed to the goal of becoming a member of the EU and good relations with Russia are “not an alternative to Europe.”
“We are NATO members. We are from a country that has been waiting for EU membership for more than 60 years. Everyone who applied after us has already been granted membership. There is an ideological approach toward Turkey,” he added.
Describing Turkey-Russia relations as “essential for the security of Europe,” Yıldırım said the EU “cannot exclude Russia.”
Support for FETÖ
The prime minister also blasted “some EU states” for their “support for terrorist organizations,” specifically citing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, referred to by the authorities as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Yıldırım warned that “upsetting a great ally like Turkey is not a wise move in terms of the future of the EU.”
“Opening up space for radical movements is the biggest future threat to Europe. Unfortunately they are providing unbelievable space for the separatist terror organization FETÖ and this saddens Turkey,” Yıldırım said.
Followers of Gülen, once a close ally of the Turkish government but now outlawed and referred to by the acronym FETÖ, are widely believed to have carried out the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
“Spain is the best country in the EU for understanding Turkey. Turkey also understands Spain. Why? Because both Turkey and Spain have suffered a lot from terrorism over the years. We know what terrorism means for a country. Separatist terrorist organizations are like microbes that constantly consume the energy of a country,” Yıldırım added.