Turkey using refugees to pressure EU: Activist

More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to reach Greece from Turkey - measures have been drawn up to encourage refugees to remain in Turkey to prevent them making the treacherous journey across sea

Refugees arrive on a dinghy on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey


Press TV has interviewed Sabah Jawad, director of Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation in London, about a deal between the European Union and Turkey on a solution to the refugee crisis.

Following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Looking at these demands that have been put forward by Turkey, many are interpreting this as Turkey blackmailing the EU into accepting its list of demands. Do you see it that way?

Jawad: Yes. It is quite obvious, I feel Turkey wants to milk the situation to their advantage to gain political concession from the European Union and the United States regarding their policies in Syria.

As we know that two million Syrians are refugees in Turkey, and Turkey is encouraging these people and facilitating these people to immigrate to the European countries to increase the pressure on the European governments, European Union and the United States. So far they have been refusing the safe haven and no-fly zone that Turkey is demanding to have in Turkey, so their allies, the terrorist groups, could operate freely from the Syrian airports, and the Syrian forces as well.

Press TV: Does this mean that Turkey has more control over the situation in Syria than many care to admit?

Jawad: They have control over the refugees actually. They encourage the refugees to go to Europe and this is to increase the pressure and also to gain concession from the European Union regarding the visas, for example, it has just been mentioned by reports. The Europeans are prepared to give some concessions, to give financial assistance to Turkey, but they are not prepared to move on Turkey’s membership in the European Union, and that is simply the fact stated by France and Germany, the major powers within the European Union. So they will not get full membership, but they might get some concession from the European Union.

And Turkey’s policy regarding Syria is a total mess. We have seen them declaring that they are part of the American alliance against ISIS (Daesh) but all we have seen on the ground is that they are bombarding the Kurdish people in Syria and in Iraq, and they are taking measures against the Kurdish population in Turkey itself.

So Erdogan and his government [is] in a deep problem and all the prediction actually that the next elections is taking place in few weeks’ time is going to see further setback for the government and the ruling party.

Press TV: Would it not be more prudent and less costly for the EU to search for a political solution in Syria rather than give all these concessions to Turkey?

Jawad: Of course. Everybody now is talking about a political solution in Syria. There cannot be a military solution in Syria. The Syrian army and the [government] is steadfast against all these aggressions against it for the past four years. The Syrian army is united and they could not dismantle the Syrian army despite all the corruptions and despite all the maneuvers by Saudi Arabia and the [Persian] Gulf states, Turkey and the Arab League and the so-called international community. They could not budge the Syrian [government]. Therefore everybody is looking to the political solution but what kind of terms of political solution? That is to be seen in the future, but I think the Syrian [government] is in much more powerful position now than the start of the crisis in Syria.

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