Turkish parliament speaker calls for sharing refugee burden
Mustafa Sentop says it is great injustice to put burden on few countries
The Turkish parliament speaker on Monday urged the international community to share the refugee burden.
“As the issue of migration is not Türkiye’s problem, it is a great injustice that the material and moral burden of this problem should be placed only on Türkiye’s shoulders,” Mustafa Sentop said, addressing the Global Parliamentary Conference on Migration in Istanbul.
“It is a great injustice to try to put the burden of this problem on a few countries,” Sentop added.
The two-day event, co-hosted by the Turkish parliament and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), kicked off in Istanbul on Monday, as the annual World Refugee Day is being marked around the globe.
The refugee burden, he said, has not been shared fairly by the international community. “Those who caused it are turning their back on the problems they have caused. Türkiye is not a country responsible for this migration.”
On Greece’s treatment of refugees, Sentop said: “We see that our neighbor Greece does not hesitate to sink” refugee boats.
“We see that they do not refrain from introducing pushback policies,” he added.
Sentop said that the European Union has also closed its eyes to this inhumane treatment.
“Unfortunately, pushback incidents that we have been facing in Europe in recent years have become a common practice. Türkiye has saved nearly 40,000 irregular migrants from pushbacks in the Aegean Sea since 2020.”
For his part, IPU President Duarte Pacheco thanked especially Turkish authorities as Türkiye hosts the largest refugee population in the world.
“Because they did all their best to receive these migrants as people, not as figures. And they do their best to integrate (these) migrants” with programs on education and job creation etc.”
He also said that they were done “without support from the international community.”
Later on Monday, Sentop and Pacheco addressed a joint news conference.
“Unfortunately, Türkiye was left alone in this migration issue,” Sentop said, adding as it is a “global problem,” the solution “must be global.”
According to Sentop, the necessary contribution, support, and global responsibility for the migration issue have not been provided.
Together with Pacheco, “we thought it would be right for the parliamentarians to come together and discuss the problem and solution proposals together for this global problem,” he said.
“We also thought that it would be beneficial to do it in Türkiye and to share its experience with the parliamentarians of other countries,” he added.
Sentop said the decision for the conference was taken before the war in Ukraine started, and added: “We consider it useful as an issue that will raise awareness on the subject a little more.”
For his part, Pacheco said parliamentarians can share the successful examples and practices they have discussed here when they return to their countries, adding the issue of migration has turned into a global problem.
Parliamentarians from more than 50 countries attended the conference, he said.