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Turkish PM cautions against ‘Christian fortress Europe’

10th Sep 2015
Turkish PM cautions against ‘Christian fortress Europe’
LONDON (AA): Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the strategy of some European leaders to invoke Christianity as a rallying cry to keep refugees out will not resolve the crisis at hand.

In an article for the U.K. newspaper The Guardian published Wednesday, Davutoglu noted that the European Union had been grappling with migration since its inception.

“Some European leaders, as if to suggest that nothing can be learned from history, are even invoking Christianity as a rallying cry to keep the refuge-seekers out,” he observed.

The prime minister also mentioned the turmoil in the Middle East and north Africa, saying the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people worldwide had reached almost 60 million, which was a historic record.

“It is high time for Europe to look in the mirror, be honest about what it sees in the reflection, to stop procrastinating and start assuming more than its fair share of the burden. Radical politicians must not be allowed to pull the wool over the eyes of the European people,” he said.

He said in the article that millions, including Africans or Asians, Muslims or Christians and Arabs or Kurds were not migrating of their own volition, they were forced to do so because of war, inter-communal strife, violence, famine, disease and discrimination.

Davutoglu emphasized that Turkey could not succeed alone, saying: “The convenient reflex of putting the onus on Turkey, adopting a purely defensive approach with wholesale security measures and building walls to create a Christian ‘fortress Europe’ may be attractive to those who have understood nothing about European history, but it will not work”.

He highlighted the fact that the Turkish people had made huge sacrifices in hosting more than two million Syrians and Iraqis. By doing so, Turkey damped the mass influx to the EU and effectively became a buffer between chaos and Europe, he noted.

“Meanwhile, EU member states account for ridiculously low shares in the global resettlement rates,” he added.

He also underlined that Turkey had spent more than $6 billion (£3.9 billion) on Syrians, Iraqis and other refugees in Turkey while the international community contributed just $417 million in total, out of which only $165 million was from EU nations.

“The concept of burden-sharing has become a meaningless catchphrase,” he wrote.

He called on EU member states to shoulder their responsibility and show humility in their response to the refugee crisis.

“The heartrending images of the lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed up on the shores of the Aegean, rightfully prompted a massive outpouring of indignation, particularly in Europe,” he said.

The incident occurred on September 2, in which 12 Syrian refugees, including eight children drowned after their boat sank en route to the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

“The time has come for Europe to get its act together on migration. EU members must shoulder their responsibility, show humility, be more open and adopt a humane stance in the face of this real humanitarian tragedy,” he said.

Turkey remains ready to work in concert with our European partners to address this humanitarian catastrophe, he added.

The UN refugee agency said recently that at least 850,000 people are expected to cross the Mediterranean this year and in 2016, and more than half of the refugees who reached Europe this year are Syrians with 51 percent.

The Syria conflict began in early 2011 when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded with force to protests that erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings.

More than four years of intense fighting has left the country divided between pro-Assad forces and a number of heavily-armed opposition factions, which are often at odds among themselves.

Roughly half of the country’s population has been displaced by the violence, with over four million Syrians now seeking refuge in neighboring countries, especially Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Author: Fatma Bülbül
[Photo: Refugees protest against waiting for hours at a refugee collection point near the Roszke crossing, the first stop before people are brought to a registration camp on September 9, 2015 in Hungary. Photographer: Mehmet Yılmaz/Anadolu Agency]

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