'Turkey cannot bear another refugee influx by itself'

Fresh refugee influx from Idlib, Syria will be concern of allies, says Turkey's ruling party spokesman

Sena Güler   | 23.12.2019
'Turkey cannot bear another refugee influx by itself'


Turkey will not be able to bear the burden of another refugee influx alone, the country’s ruling party spokesman said on Monday.

"We have the information of another refugee influx from there [Syria’s northwestern Idlib province]. From now on, Turkey cannot bear this refugee influx by itself," Omer Celik told a press conference following the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s central executive committee in the capital Ankara.

"We clearly say that the refugee issue will become the matter of Turkey's allies rather than an issue of Turkey alone," Celik said, reiterating the stance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the issue.

Celik reiterated Turkey's position that if the country's European allies did not lend support for such policies as the establishment of a planned safe zone in northern Syria and construction of buildings for the safe return of the region's people, the issue of refugees residing in Turkey would become more "Europe's issue", than that of Turkey.

Celik said Ankara was doing alone what the world failed to, adding: "While the EU and the world are silent on the deaths in the Mediterranean [Sea], Turkey alone undertakes the burden of being the conscious of the world."

Noting that Turkey's efforts on the issue was receiving appreciation from the world and the UN, he said European countries were still discussing whether to hold a referendum on taking in refugees.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Since then, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone as the cease-fire continues to be violated.

If aggression by the regime and its allies continues, Turkey and the Europe face the risk of another refugee influx.

Over a million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border following intense attacks.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in over 3.6 million Syrians who fled their country, making Turkey the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.

Khashoggi case verdict 'not satisfactory'

On a Saudi court’s ruling on the trial of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Celik said: "It is not a satisfactory decision, but one that unfortunately proves our concerns right."

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a U.S. resident, was murdered after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 of last year on a visit to pick up paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.

Underlining that Turkey had called on Saudi Arabia to judge the suspects in Istanbul under the observation of the international community in order to ensure a justice process, Celik said Saudi Arabia had carried out a closed trial process.

"We call once again for transparency and a respected court. We say that a court with high judiciary standards should be heard in Istanbul under the supervision of international institutions," he added.

A Saudi court on Monday sentenced five people to death for taking part in the murder of Khashoggi in a trial of 11 people.

Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al-Shalaan said three people were given jail terms totaling 24 years in prison for their role in covering up the crime and violating law.

Al-Shalaan said the court dismissed the charges against three other suspects and found them not guilty, including former royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani, former consul general in Istanbul Mohammed al-Oteibi and Ahmed Assiri, the former intelligence deputy chief.

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