They're aware of Turkey’s refugee burden, but are we? - HASAN ÖZTÜRK

They're aware of Turkey’s refugee burden, but are we?

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Chief Advisor Dmitry Peskov made headlines in Turkey on Monday, stating his views with respect to Turkey's refugee burden, Peskov said something along the lines of, "I saw that Istanbul became an Arabic-speaking country."

I am among those who know what this statement means. I also follow the kind of burden Turkey has assumed. I also, in a way, concern myself with this and am aware that this concern is causing me trouble.

The ability to express our ideas on a sensitive matter

I know that the refugee problem, or more clearly, the Syrian issue, cannot be kept separate from the abuse of politics or other groups. I am also aware of the difficulty with respect to contemplating over a "sensitive" matter.

I know that in the polls mayoral candidates have conducted in Istanbul, this matter is among the public's primary problems. We are still aware of the generosity of the same public with respect to our showing "patience."

Despite all this, I am trying to indicate that fighting "imaginary windmills" is as wrong as considering this problem non-existent.

Saying "We have no issue such as the Syrian matter" is as non-realistic as denying Syrians' existence. In other words, both approaches are covering the cracks.

Hence, I would like to state a matter I encountered when seeking ways to be understood, and then close the topic.

When the EU is the one to “guarantee support for migrants’ integration

At the Budapest Process 6th Ministers Conference held in Istanbul and on "migration," the Istanbul Guarantee regarding "refugee rights" was accepted. Hungary added an annotation to the guarantee saying, "Migration is not a humanitarian right." All other participants, including Turkey, accepted this.

One of the articles in the guarantee drew my attention.

"Supporting migrants' integration and fighting against discrimination, racism and xenophobia."

Representatives of EU countries other than Hungary behaved hypocritical and signed the document including the above article. The document is filled with statements "encouraging Turkey in this respect."

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos praised Turkey, saying we can build new ones over the important results we have achieved together with regard to the refugee crisis. The first of these is the EU-Turkey Declaration we signed in 2016. I remember the times in 2015 when more than 14,000 crossed over to the EU through the Aegean Sea in a day. It was an uncontrollable situation. The real nature (...) of this cooperation lies in the generosity of Turkey, which is hosting about 4 million refugees."

Protecting EU from refugees

Need I remind everyone that the issue of Syrians or a new migration wave is on our agenda once again after the tensions in Idlib?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said before the Idlib Agreement signed with Russia in September 2018 that, “We cannot endure a new migration wave.”

Amid recent discussions on the “safe zone,” Erdoğan said, “Unless we are able to return the millions of Syrians living on our land in Turkey, the problem will eventually knock on Europe's doors." (Feb. 20, Yeni Şafak)

There was an extremely important element to Yeni Şafak's Feb. 15 subheading for the same new story.

The subheading of the article titled, "Lift the barriers," reads, "The EU, which did not comply with the 'Refugee Agreement' signed with Turkey in 2016, is now opposing the concept of a 'safe zone' in Syria. Hence, Ankara is discussing the issue of lifting the barriers stopping the refugees wanting to go to Europe. This way, giving the EU a taste of the refugee reality, the risks in the sea will be reduced."

Concerns about those who will eventually stay behind

We all know that part of the Syrians in Turkey will go to EU countries the moment they get the opportunity to do so. Another part is going to return to Syria. However, a significant portion will remain in Turkey.

For those who will be remaining in Turkey, we do not need the EU or anybody else's ideas. We just need to understand the issue. We must develop social policies for integration before Syrians become ghettoized and be confronted with them as a problem.

Think twice before saying, "Fascist. Anti-refugee."

I wonder if my point came across more clearly this time.


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