Turkey is not able to take in or host any more refugees, whether from Syria or other countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced yesterday.
Cavusoglu made the statement in an article he wrote for the UK-based newspaper the Financial Times, in which he made the argument that “‘EU inaction on Syrian refugees is a stain on human conscience.”
In the opinion piece, he laid bare the EU’s claim that it stands as a beacon for human rights and for abiding by international law, and questioned that role in regards to the union’s recent rebuttal of refugees at the Greek border and its refusal to consider their applications.
Cavusoglu warned that if the EU continues to support the Greek authorities’ brutal handling of the situation, then it would contradict its claim to that role. “I have long cautioned the EU not to be complacent about the challenges it faces, including the rise of extremism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” he said.
He added that in order to alleviate the burden of the refugee crisis that has impacted Turkey throughout the past decade, the country has “called for a revamped international system to manage the huge displacement of people fleeing conflicts such as Syria’s. We have painstakingly tried to convince the EU to help us resolve such conflicts and address the fragilities that surround Europe.”
As a result of the nine-year-long ongoing Syrian civil war between the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian opposition forces, numerous waves of refugees entered and passed through Turkey in order to escape the conflict and the regime’s brutality, many of whom attempted to reach northern and western Europe.
Since Turkey’s agreement with the EU in 2016, which obligated Turkey to prevent them from going to Europe in return for €6 billion ($6.5 billion) in aid and other benefits, Turkey became frustrated with the EU’s neglect of their part of the deal while it was left to host over 4 million refugees alone.
Following the Syrian regime’s killing of 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib last month, however, Turkey opened its border with the province to displaced Syrians and refugees and allowed them to make their way to Europe. Since then, over 100,000 refugees from Syria and other countries have amassed on the Turkish-Greek border to attempt to make their way into Europe.
The Greek border and naval guards were caught committing desperate and brutal acts in order to prevent their entrance, with one refugee having died as a result of the Greek border guards’ firing of tear gas canisters.
Cavusolgu touched upon that time, saying that “When Turkish soldiers were attacked in February, we retaliated forcefully and showed what it means to attack a NATO country… one million people had begun marching towards NATO and Europe’s southeastern boundary, the Turkish-Syrian border.”
He also mentioned the enormous financial costs that Turkey has been dealing with during the course of the refugee crisis and its hosting of the refugees, saying that overall Turkey has spent over $40 billion. “We cannot continue to protect the borders of NATO and Europe alone,” he stated.