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'EU failed to do its share for 4m refugees in Turkey'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey on 16 February 2021 [Halil Sağırkaya/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey on 16 February 2021 [Halil Sağırkaya/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey's president on Monday criticised the EU's double standard of supporting Greece on the migrant issue but not sharing responsibility for 4 million refugees hosted by Turkey, Anadolu Agency reported.

Speaking at a migration conference at a university in the Aegean Izmir province, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "While the EU gives Greece €3 billion [$3.65 billion] for 100,000 refugees, it did not shoulder its responsibility for 4 million refugees in Turkey."

He added that refugees along the Turkish-Greek border have been openly persecuted by Greek security forces, resulting in shameful scenes.

"Humanity has failed [migrants] not only in the Mediterranean, but also in the Aegean and Meric River," he said, citing the river along the Turkish-Greek border, stressing that in 2020 alone, the Greek Coast Guard committed 9,000 cases of illegal pushback of asylum seekers in the Aegean.

The world also has no idea where and who kidnapped tens of thousands of Syrian children seeking refuge in Europe who disappeared, he added.

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Erdogan said that approximately 85% of the world's refugee population is not hosted by wealthy states, but by countries which are less developed.

"According to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, only 39,500 out of 1.4 million refugees waiting to be placed in third countries in the world in 2020 were resettled in 25 Western countries," he said.

For over 500 years Turkish people have welcomed refugees, taking in migrants from various cultures and religions, he said, adding: "We did not turn down anyone who came to our borders over their ethnic identity, religion, culture, disposition, or sect."

Criticising US support for the group YPG, he said: "They do not care about refugees but still stand with terrorism and terrorists."

Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist organisation.

Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world. It has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Under a March 2016 deal, the EU allocated €6 billion to support Syrian migrants in Turkey, but Turkey has complained that the funds were allocated belatedly and incompletely.

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