EUROPE

Erdoğan: Turkey abides by refugee deal with EU

Turkey has spent nearly $12B on Syrian refugees since crisis began; EU just $2B, president tells German television

Anadolu Agency
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday that the coup attempt 15 July would not change Ankara's commitment to a refugee deal with the European Union (EU).

“Turkey stands by its commitment with regard to refugees," Erdoğan said in an interview with German ARD television.

Turkey and the EU signed the deal March 18, which aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country.

“Ask them [the EU]. Did you pay? But Turkey still hosts 3 million people. What would Europe do if we let these people go to Europe," Erdogan asked.

Hosting the most Syrian refugees in the world, Erdogan told ARD television that Turkey has spent nearly $12 billion from the state budget to care for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

He said the European Union has provided just 2 billion euros for the refugees and stressed that Turkey would continue to take care Syrian refugees even if the European Union does not provide financial help.

During the interview, Erdogan criticized Europe for doing little in the face of terrorism.

Saying that Ankara has fought against terror in the last 30-35 years, he accused Berlin of “seriously supporting" the PKK terror group.

“I handed over 4,000 dossiers to [German leader Angela Merkel]. When I asked her 'what did you do?' she told me judicial process is underway," Erdoğan said.

He said terrorists have continued to live in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, adding that although Turkey has provided intelligence on these people, they have not been handed over.

He called on Europe for a joint effort against terror.

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization also by the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015. Since then, nearly 600 security personnel, including troops, police officers and village guards have been martyred and more than 7,700 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.

On terror attacks in Europe, Erdogan said while condemning them, he would not accept the label “Islamic terror."

Such label, according to Erdoğan, would be an insult to all Muslims.

On a question regarding the government mulling bringing back death penalty for plotters of the deadly July 15 coup, Erdogan said in democracies the decision rested with the people, pointing out that the capital punishment was being practiced in many democratic countries outside Europe.


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