Türkİye, Europe

Turkey: Europe needs updated migration policies

Rising racism, discrimination hamper European governments' 'well-intentioned efforts,' says Interior Minister Soylu

Turkey: Europe needs updated migration policies Minister of Interior of Turkey, Suleyman Soylu

By Hatice Senses Kurukiz, Cigdem Alyanak and Gulsum Incekaya, Talha Ozturk


Turkey’s interior minister on Wednesday criticized Europe’s current migration policies, saying they have to be updated. 

"Europe’s politics are being affected by migration … Its migration policies need to be updated," Suleyman Soylu told the 6th Ministerial Conference of Budapest Process, an interregional forum on migration, in Istanbul.

He said rising racism and discrimination had hampered European governments' “well-intentioned efforts.”

"Europe needs to take measures to fight racism and discrimination and needs to adopt the motto 'integrity in diversity' in tackling the migration issue," he added.

The Budapest Process, established in 1993, is a forum of over 50 governments and numerous international organizations, aimed at developing comprehensive and sustainable systems for orderly migration.

In his speech, Soylu said no era in history had been free of the phenomenon of mass migration.

“We should try to manage it together, instead of preventing it,” he said. 

Migration ‘security issue’ for Turkey

Current efforts worldwide on the issue fall short, said Soylu. 

“Our goal is to reach the upper limit of what we can do, and a world where we can find only oyster shells and sea stars on our beaches," he said, in an apparent reference to Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who washed ashore a Turkish beach in 2015, spurring an international outcry.

Migration is a “big security issue” for Turkey as it fights terror groups such as the PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and Daesh within its borders, Soylu asserted. 

Citing the latest state figures, Soylu said Turkey hosts over 3.6 million Syrians granted temporary protection status -- more than any other country in the world. 

The country has spent more than $37 billion of its own national resources to aid and shelter refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Soylu said today's meeting aims to advance the 2013 Istanbul Declaration, which he called the "most far-reaching" declaration ever adopted by such a group of participants. 

The Istanbul Declaration on "A Silk Routes Partnership for Migration" was adopted in 2013 in Istanbul, at the last Budapest Process Ministerial Conference. 

The declaration promotes “further dialogue and mutual cooperation in managing migration flow taking place along the Silk Routes as the Budapest Process priority,” according to the website of the process.  

Hungary, Somalia and Serbia

Also speaking at the event, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called migration the world’s “most serious and complicated challenge.” 

Complaining that Hungary has faced “biased and unbalanced positions” in tackling migration, he said: “Our position is that we should leave hypocrisy and political correctness behind. We have to explore all aspects of migration in an honest manner.”

“In this regard, we consider illegal migration a dangerous and harmful phenomenon which destabilizes countries of origin, of transit, and of destination as well,” he added.

He also thanked Turkey for hosting around 4 million refugees. 

For his part, Mohamed Abukar Islow, Somalia's minister of internal security, voiced his belief that that migration issue, which he called a global problem, could be resolved through a collective approach. 

Support from the international community will make us take important steps in this regard, Islow said.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told the event that since the beginning of the migration crisis, more than a million irregular migrants have entered Serbian territory.

"Our state reacted responsibly, trying to preserve the safety of its own citizens and at the same time respecting the basic human rights of migrants," he said.

He also stressed that Serbia provided the necessary medical care and accommodation to all migrants.

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