UPDATE – Turkey: Europe needs updated migration policies


By Hatice Senses Kurukiz and Cigdem Alyanak

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey’s interior minister on Wednesday criticized Europe’s current migration policies, saying they have to be updated.

"Europe’s politics are being affected by migration … Its migration policies need to be updated," Suleyman Soylu told the 6th Ministerial Conference of Budapest Process, an interregional forum on migration, in Istanbul.

He said rising racism and discrimination had hampered European governments' “well-intentioned efforts.”

"Europe needs to take measures to fight racism and discrimination and needs to adopt the motto 'integrity in diversity' in tackling the migration issue," he added.

The Budapest Process, established in 1993, is a forum of over 50 governments and numerous international organizations, aimed at developing comprehensive and sustainable systems for orderly migration.

In his speech, Soylu said no era in history had been free of the phenomenon of mass migration.

“We should try to manage it together, instead of preventing it,” he said.

– Migration ‘security issue’ for Turkey

Current efforts worldwide on the issue fall short, said Soylu.

“Our goal is to reach the upper limit of what we can do, and a world where we can find only oyster shells and sea stars on our beaches," he said, in an apparent reference to Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who washed ashore a Turkish beach in 2015, spurring an international outcry.

Migration is a “big security issue” for Turkey as it fights terror groups such as the PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and Daesh within its borders, Soylu asserted.

Citing the latest state figures, Soylu said Turkey hosts over 3.6 million Syrians granted temporary protection status — more than any other country in the world.

The country has spent more than $37 billion of its own national resources to aid and shelter refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Soylu said today's meeting aims to advance the 2013 Istanbul Declaration, which he called the "most far-reaching" declaration ever adopted by such a group of participants.

The Istanbul Declaration on "A Silk Routes Partnership for Migration" was adopted in 2013 in Istanbul, at the last Budapest Process Ministerial Conference.

The declaration promotes “further dialogue and mutual cooperation in managing migration flow taking place along the Silk Routes as the Budapest Process priority,” according to the website of the process.