Turkish opposition leader criticises Turkey-EU refugee plan

Kurdish-speaking Syrian refugee beggar, Ankara. [Volkan/Flickr]

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has criticised the government for demanding European Union funds to stem the flood of migrants streaming through the bloc, local media reported on Friday (11 March).

The EU agreed in November to deliver three billion euros in funds for refugees in return for Ankara’s cooperation in tackling the migrant crisis.

At the Brussels summit this week, Turkey also asked for an extra three billion euros in aid.

“You are turning Turkey into a buffer province,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) told the Hurriyet newspaper, lashing out at the government.

“We can give them (the EU) six billion euros and they can take all the Syrians, Afghans, Pakistanis,” he said.

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Turkey surprised EU leaders at the summit on Monday (7 March) by presenting a set of proposals to help solve the migrant crisis, but the deal has yet to be confirmed by another summit next week.

Ankara had offered to take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece and to set up an arrangement to exchange Syrians in Greece for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Kilicdaroglu claimed that the EU would take university graduate-qualified Syrians and deliver the rest to Turkey.

“This is first of all against human rights,” he said. “Signing such a deal discriminating between migrants disrespects human dignity.”

The UN refugee chief and rights groups have already voiced concerns over the tentative deal, questioning whether it was legal.

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