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Europe broke refugee promises, Turkish PM says

Turkey’s prime minister Binali Yıldırım (Evening Standard)

Binali Yıldırım tells Evening Standard that the EU was not sharing the load of helping Syrian refugees

The European Union has flagrantly broke promises to help millions of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey under a deal to stop them fleeing to Europe, Turkey’s prime minister has said.

Binali Yıldırım said during his trip to London this week that although Turkey had made great sacrifices to host the exodus from the Syrian civil war, promised incentives like visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU had not been delivered.

“We saved life, we educate children, we care for them and keep them on our soil,” he told the Evening Standard.

“Europe should appreciate this and take responsibility for how we can share the load. Otherwise they would be saying ‘Welcome to Europe!’”

But he firmly denied plans to scrap the refugee deal in retaliation, insisting: “We are not going to let these people die in treacherous waters simply because we are angry with Europe.”

The Turkish prime minister also dismissed Western criticism of Turkey’s state of emergency following a coup attempt last summer. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested or sacked from their jobs in a widespread crackdown across the country.

“They are not true,” Mr Yildirim said of the claims. “Unfortunately some of our European friends, allies, are influenced. They listen to representatives of terrorist organisations and they take their words at face value.

“What they [Europe] did is say, ‘Please be polite to those that organised the coup, treat them nicely’. What is this? It is not acceptable.”

He added: “In Europe, Islamophobia is on the rise, and anti-Semitism is on the rise. What are Europeans doing about it?”