Presidency of the Republic of Turkey

02/22/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/22/2021 14:11

“We have opened our doors to millions of people facing discrimination and oppression”

Addressing an international conference on migration, President Erdoğan said: 'We have been situated at the center of the movement of humans for centuries across continents and regions from east to west, from north to south. Over the past 500 years, we have opened our doors to people who have faced discrimination due to their faith, race and culture or who have suffered oppression and persecution, first and foremost the Jews fleeing the Inquisition.'

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed an international conference titled 'Migration: Projections for the Next 20 Years and Beyond,' at Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir.

Noting that the world is currently witnessing the biggest movement of humans since World War II and that millions of people are displaced every year due to wars, conflicts, instabilities, famine, terror and poverty, President Erdoğan said there are currently some 272 million migrants, 80 million displaced people and 26 million refugees across the world.

'THE WHEREABOUTS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SYRIAN CHILDREN, WHO TOOK REFUGE IN EUROPE, ARE UNKNOWN'

Nearly 9 thousand pushbacks took place in the Aegean in 2020 alone, the President underlined. 'The whereabouts and kidnappers of tens of thousands of Syrian children, who took refuge in Europe, are unknown.'

Out of the 1.44 million refugees, only 39.5 thousand could be placed in 25 western countries in 2020 according to the figures released by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the President highlighted. 'Turkey, however, is home to nearly 4 million refugees by itself. Those advising Turkey to open its borders have themselves closed their borders in the meantime and turned their backs on refugees.'

Drawing attention to the shameful scenes of incidents in which the Greek security forces blatantly tyrannize refugees along the Turkish-Greek border, President Erdoğan stated that the EU agency is also a party to these violations.

'WE HAVE BEEN SITUATED AT THE CENTER OF THE MOVEMENT OF HUMANS FOR CENTURIES ACROSS CONTINENTS AND REGIONS'

Stressing that Turkey, a country located at the intersection of continents and cultures, is by no means stranger to the notion of migration, President Erdoğan said: 'We have been situated at the center of the movement of humans for centuries across continents and regions from east to west, from north to south. Over the past 500 years, we have opened our doors to people who have faced discrimination due to their faith, race and culture or who have suffered oppression and persecution, first and foremost the Jews fleeing the Inquisition.'

Turkey has embraced with open arms the Turkmens from Syria, the Kurds from Kobane and the Arabs from Aleppo, the President said. Further stressing that Turkey has also opened its doors to Christians, Yazidis, Assyrians and people of many other faiths along with Muslims, President Erdoğan criticized a US general's recent remarks to the effect that the US acts with the PKK/YPG/PYD terrorist organization.

President Erdoğan went on to say: 'What kind of a NATO alliance is this? Their issue is not to support refugees. Their issue is something else. They still act with terrorists. We, on the other hand, maintain our fight against terrorism and terrorists everywhere, and we will continue to do so. We open our hearts so long as friends act like a friend. Otherwise, we will do whatever we have done thus far.'

'TURKEY HAS BUILT 52 THOUSAND BRIQUETTE HOUSES AND THUS SAVED REFUGEES FROM TENTS'

Underlining that Turkey has prevented a grave migration crisis in the areas it cleared of terror in the north of Syria, President Erdoğan said that European leaders have not kept their promises to shoulder responsibility for the construction of some of the briquette houses in Idlib, in the north of Syria while Turkey has built 52 thousand briquette houses and thus saved refugees from tents.

The EU, which has provided 3 billion euros for the 100 thousand refugees in Greece, has not shared burden for the 4 million refugees in Turkey, President Erdoğan underscored. 'The 6 billion euros, promised to us in the March 18 memorandum, is still yet to be fully delivered.'