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Turkey: Is the EU jesting with Turkey? -Semih Idiz

It’s almost like a bad joke. At the very moment when EU member states are doing their utmost to close their borders to Syrian refugees, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini is calling on Ankara to admit the tens of thousands of refugees piled up on Turkey’s borders near the town of Kilis, following the recent advances near Aleppo by al-Assad regime forces supported by Russia and Iran.

Mogherini is saying that there is a moral if not legal duty to provide protection to these people. According to her, the EU is also providing funds to ensure that Turkey has “the means, the instruments, and the resources to protect and host the people who are seeking asylum.”

This appears to be no more than a flimsy attempt to retain a moral high ground against Turkey at a time when Europe is reacting deplorably to the refugee crisis and therefore has much to answer for. What Mogherini says also completely disregards what Turkey has been doing for the past four years.

There are reports in the European press claiming that Turkey is saying the refugees are receiving food and shelter inside Syria and there is no need to allow them to cross. If this were true, the first people to be happy would be the Turks, who are deeply concerned about a new flood of refugees. These claims, however, are contradicted by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ill-considered “open door” policy for Syrian refugees, which is also a source of deep annoyance for many Turks.

The government insists, as it has done from the start, that Ankara has a moral duty to admit these people in so there is no need for Mogherini to stress this point as far as Turkey is concerned. She would do better to concentrate her efforts on convincing EU member states instead.

The bottom line is that there is no change in Ankara’s open door policy for Syrian refugees.  The bare truth is that Turkey cannot change this policy because the AKP would lose face, having vowed from the start to always take in the victims of the al-Assad regime. 

Read more: Is the EU jesting with Turkey? - SEMİH İDİZ

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