By Ali Murat Alhas
ANKARA (AA) - Greece’s suspension of temporary protection for migrants is the denial of international norms, values and foundational principles of the EU, Turkey’s communications director said on Monday.
In a series of Twitter posts, Fahrettin Altun commented on irregular migrants’ crossing into the EU, the treatment meted out to them by Greek border authorities and recent developments in northwestern Syria.
“Greece’s treatment of refugees along its borders and in the Aegean Sea, as well as its refusal to honor temporary protection for Syrians, are a declaration of war on Europe’s own values and principles. Next time we get lectured about those values, we will remind them of this!” Altun said.
He was critical of the EU as it stepped into action when migrants showed up at their borders, whereas it remained silent when millions in Idlib city of Syria were being bombarded.
“The EU’s failure to work with Turkey in a serious way to meet the unprecedented migration crisis has led to this day,” he said, adding the union has so far failed to keep its promises.
“They have failed to fully honor our 2015 agreement, leaving Turkey to deal with it & hoping we’d prevent refugees headed to Europe. We will not do it anymore!" he said.
Stressing that resolution of migrant crisis was based on collaboration with Ankara administration, he went on to say that denying entry would not bring any constructive solution to the migrant matter.
“What Turkey has accomplished to protect civilians in the past few weeks has not been accomplished by the international community in the past 9 years," he said. "We have exposed the regime’s cowardly actions against its own people and showed that they could have been stopped a long time ago."
He continued: “Turkey’s operation in Idlib aims to stop the humanitarian crisis. It also aims to ensure Syria’s territorial integrity. Turkey has no interest in acquiring any territory in Syria. We simply seek to prevent renewed refugee outflows and to establish stability and peace.”
Senior Turkish official noted that the Turkish army struck multiple chemical weapon sites amid its military campaign in northern Syria, and the existence of such sites was “the proof that the international community has been deceived until now.”
“Lack of serious sanctions against the Assad regime allowed it to continue to operate chemical weapon sites. It hasn’t shied away from using chemical weapons against civilians to empty out major urban areas. Relevant international bodies must inspect & shut down these sites,” he concluded.
On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from the regime attacks.
It came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred and tens of others injured in an Assad regime airstrike in the de-escalation zone, just across Turkey’s southern border, on Feb. 27.
The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.