Turkish people should embrace immigrants, returning to Turkey from Greek island of Lesbos, as their own child or brother, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday.
As part of an EU deal, the first group of immigrants arrived in Turkey from the Lesbos Island close to the Turkish coast early Monday.
Last month, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a plan to stem the flow of refugees who illegally crossed into Greece and decided to send them back to Turkey.
The prime minister addressed the issue during an event in Ankara to mark Turkish Police Organization’s 171st anniversary. “You should treat migrants as your own children or as your own brother.”
For every Syrian who is returned to Turkey, the EU promises, according to the pact, to settle one Syrian refugee in Turkey. Turkey will also be granted a visa-free travel across Europe. The EU pledged additional 3 billion euros to improve the conditions of Syrian refugees living in the country. Turkey hosts some 3 million Syrian refugees at the moment.
Davutoğlu also spoke about the ongoing military operations in the country’s southeast against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
“We are fighting terrorism in a circle of fire,” he stated.
He added that six countries around Turkey — Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Libya and Ukraine — face some border control risks.
Hundreds of militants, members of Turkish security services and civilians have been killed since last summer when fragile peace process fell apart following a two-year-and-half peace process.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Ankara, Washington and Brussels. At least 40,000 people have been killed in clashes between Turkish forces and PKK militants since 1984.