The immigrants, who managed to reach Europe, were victims of “racist, discriminatory and hostile” policies, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 21.
“The inhumane scenes we witnessed at the Turkish-Greece border last year are significant in laying bare the point of view towards migrants by certain western countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the inconveniences migrants face, making their already-vulnerable situation even more difficult,” he said delivering a speech at the closing ceremony of the International Migration Film Festival via videoconference.
“As the members of a civilization who believe in the abundance of sharing and the power of solidarity, we did not discriminate against anyone. While countries with a lot more opportunities compared to us imposed dozens of quotas, we embraced everyone regardless of race, religion, language, and ethnicity. We treated the oppressed and disadvantaged people who took refuge in our country by offering the same opportunities we offered to our citizens,” Erdoğan stated.
Turkey has led comprehensive policies in dealing with refugees, including accommodation, health, education, social integration, President Erdoğan, however, noted that throughout this process, Turkey failed to receive any support from many countries, including the EU, who “allegedly are dire defendants of democracy and human rights”. Turkey was left to shoulder the burden of irregular migration all by itself since the promises made to it weren’t delivered, he said.
The President underlined that even though the notion of refugee and migration was tried to be dealt with only within the scope of safety due to the irregular movement of people from Syria and Africa, it was a multidimensional issue.
“Migration is at the same time a new union, it is people from different ethnic identities, religions, languages, cultures embracing one another. What is experienced during a migration period leaves new words in our language, new tastes in our mouths, and new associations in our memories,” he said.
The president emphasized that the movie industry is a very powerful tool in effectively telling the migration stories, be they stories of joy or sorrow.
“I am so delighted to see that the richness and diversity migration consists of have been reflected in the International Migration Film Festival,” he stated.