The article “Refugee flow linked to Turkish policy shift” is quite off the mark. These so-called “officials” do not know what they are talking about. We certainly do not “look the other way,” nor do we “actively promote the exodus.” Turkey apprehended 500 thousand irregular migrants trying to cross into the EU, during 2005-14. Only since the beginning of 2015, the Turkish Coast Guard has rescued 40 thousand migrants from the sea and apprehended 86 migrant smugglers. Turkey is also active in international fora. It has launched the “Global awareness regarding the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean Basin, with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers” initiative at the upcoming 70th session of the UN General Assembly. Turkey will also host the first World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016. We are hosting 2 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees since the beginning of the crisis 5 years ago, at an expense of 5,6 bilion dollars (1).
We are determined to continue to help any refugees in need, for humanitarian reasons and there is no shift in our stance. I would rather describe our situation like a sponge, which was taking water for 5 years and has inevitably begun to leak. Of course the decision to hit the road is not ours, it is the refugees’. As we were carrying the heavy burden for years now, the EU was watching from a safe distance and our timely appeals that this tsunami of people might one day decide to come your way fell on deaf ears. I cannot understand how we are expected to prevent these waves of people, while all other countries on the route they are taking are failing miserably!
Turkish Ambassador in Athens
(1) As we spent 5.6 bn USD, we got international aid of 417 million, less that 1/13. I am not even comparing the size and the GDPs of the EU and Turkey.