Head of Turkish Communication – Middle East Monitor
Europe can learn lessons from Turkey on how to humanely handle the refugee crisis sparked by the war between Ukraine and Russia, Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said on Friday. Anadolu News Agency reports.
“As it ponders how to handle this humanitarian crisis, Europe can look to Turkey for lessons. After all, Turkey has been handling the waves of refugees from the Middle East effectively and humanely for many years when most European nations were inflicting additional suffering on vulnerable victims of conflict with their ‘safety first’ asylum policies,” Fahrettin Altun said in a guest op-ed for Al Jazeera English online.
In the article titled “What Turkey can teach Europe about managing a refugee crisis”, Altun stressed that Turkey has always treated the refugees it hosts with “humanity and respect”.
“Unlike Europe, where many politicians routinely resort to anti-immigration rhetoric for quick political gain, Turkey’s leaders have consistently resisted attempts by the domestic opposition to stoke anti-refugee sentiment in the country.” , did he declare.
Stating that refugees, regardless of origin, have found a “true refuge in Turkey”, Altun said, “the Turkish government has refused to scapegoat refugees following the terrorist attacks”.
Turkiye’s handling of the refugee crisis
As for how Turkiye has managed to handle the refugee crisis, Altun said the Turkish government has always been transparent about why and how it welcomes refugees into the country.
“Our government has always worked to ensure that the general public is aware of what is happening in Syria and the threats civilians face there,” he added.
He added: “Unlike many of their European counterparts, Turkey’s leaders have not allowed far-right populism and anti-refugee activism to thrive in the country.”
A second major reason why Turkiye has achieved its goal of managing the refugee crisis, Altun said, is that there has never been discrimination against refugees in Turkey because of their ethnic origin, their religion or gender.
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“We have, for example, opened our arms to all Syrians trying to escape the war: Arabs fleeing the brutal Assad regime, Kurds fleeing ISIL (Daesh) and Turkmens persecuted and driven out by the (Syrian branch of terrorist PKK) YPG, all have found refuge in our country,” he added.
Contrary to Turkiye’s position, he said, the discriminatory asylum policies of some European countries could trigger “destructive waves of xenophobia and racism”.
He stressed that “Turkiye never found the strong support it needed from the international community during the refugee crisis triggered by the Syrian conflict, except when our European allies felt threatened by waves of migration. irregular”.
“The international community should learn from the mistakes of the past”
He also urged the international community to learn from past mistakes and never abandon Ukraine’s neighboring countries, unlike “the way Europe abandoned Turkey during the Syrian refugee crisis”.
Regarding the resolution of the refugee crisis, he said, “Turkiye has always known that the ultimate resolution of any refugee crisis comes from ending its root cause: wars, military operations, conflicts.”
On the importance of diplomacy in saving the lives of millions of civilians, Altun said: “The West is now trying to increase the cost of its actions in Ukraine for Russia, but it must not lose sight of the need to find a diplomatic solution for the good of millions of innocent civilians.”
“It is high time for Europe to create an atmosphere where all refugees are welcome, regardless of their origin,” he added.
The number of Syrians living in Turkey is now around 4 million and, according to the Interior Ministry, nearly 175,000 Syrians obtained Turkish citizenship between 2011 – when the Syrian civil war began – and 2021.
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