Turkey's main opposition leader has said the country would be better off giving the European Union 6 billion euros to take away all the refugees it has been hosting than asking for more money and becoming a “buffer province” for the bloc, while calling the deal struck at a recent summit between the EU and Turkey “against human rights” and “the utmost disrespect to humanity.”
“Let us give 6 billion euros to them [the EU] and let them take all Syrian, Afghan and Pakistani [refugees] themselves,” main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to a recent deal struck between Turkey and the EU in an effort to manage the migration crisis.
“Which Syrians will they take? University graduates and those with a profession. They say, ‘It doesn't matter how you deal with the rest.' This is against human rights before everything else. Signing such a deal is the utmost disrespect to humanity. In my opinion, Europeans have not been moral either,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on March 10.
At a special summit on the migration crisis held in Brussels on March 7, the Turkish government and the EU agreed on a deal due to be finalized on March 17-18 which would see Turkey take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece.
Ankara proposed an arrangement under which the EU would legally resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every illegal Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece, in a bid to reduce the incentive for people to board boats for Europe.
In return though, Turkey wants billions of euros in aid, visa-free access to Europe's passport-free Schengen zone and a speeding up of Ankara's efforts to join the EU.
Under a stalled deal clinched in November 2015, the European Union had already pledged 3 billion euros to aid refugees on Turkish territory in return for Ankara's cooperation in tackling Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II. In the latest round of talks, Turkey asked for an additional 3 billion euros.
“We mentioned 3 billion [euros] for one year and they were insisting on two years. I said, ‘we have brought in a new dimension: We want an additional 3 billion [euros],'” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was quoted as saying while en route from Brussels to Turkey.
“The Kayseri way of bargaining went well, that's to say an additional three billions euros. They haven't mentioned this in their statements because a summit decision is required for this,” the prime minister said in remarks published on March 8, in an apparent reference to commercial talents of entrepreneurs from the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, who are known to be hard bargainers.
However, Kılıçdaroğlu harshly criticized these remarks.
“With this decision, Europeans have been considering Turkey as a buffer zone between Europe and the Middle East,” the CHP leader said. “With this deal, Europe is not abiding by its own values and rules. Those who regard this as ‘Kayseri bargaining,' may have been assuming ‘we have deceived the Europeans and gained a good advantage.' But believe me, nobody from Kayseri would sing about this. As far as I know, all Kayseri people are esteemed people; they know about commerce well but they would not sign such a deal, because nobody from Kayseri would like Kayseri to be a buffer zone. You are making Turkey a ‘buffer province,'” he said.
Meanwhile, Davutoğlu also said visa exemption for Turkish citizens to the EU will be provided by June and called on the opposition to not block this process.
“We need to get legal arrangements adopted by parliament by May 1 so that processes within the European Union will also be completed by June. We need the opposition's support. We, at least, need them to not cut our water off,” Davutoğlu said late on March 9.
“We would pass these [arrangements] with 317 votes anyhow but let them not obstruct it,” he said, referring to the fact that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) holds a majority of the 550-seated national assembly with 317 deputies.
“Let them not block parliament with an obstructive stance and let's pass these laws. This is a 50-60-year-old dream. We will make it real for our citizens,” he said, while delivering a speech at a reception hosted by the International Investors Association of Turkey (YASED).