Reinsalu: We won't abandon our principles over Erdoğan threats ({{commentsTotal}})

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) on Esimene stuudio. Oct. 10, 2019.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) on Esimene stuudio. Oct. 10, 2019. Source: ERR

Speaking on ETV program Esimene stuudio on Thursday evening, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's threat of sending millions of refugees to Europe is serious, but the EU will not yet respond by abandoning its understanding of how the Syrian crisis should be resolved.

Erdoğan has threatened to send millions of refugees into the EU if the latter does not stop criticizing Turkey's recent military offensive in Northern Syria.

"These are very serious words," Reinsalu said. "This will certainly be very seriously discussed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers next week. But that does not mean that we should in any way abandon our principles or our understanding of how to resolve the Syrian crisis."

Erdoğan has threatened to send millions of refugees into the EU if the latter does not stop criticizing Turkey's recent military offensive in Northern Syria.

"These are very serious words," Reinsalu said. "This will certainly be very seriously discussed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers next week. But that does not mean that we should in any way abandon our principles or our understanding of how to resolve the Syrian crisis."

The foreign minister acknowledged the responsibility the Turkish state has taken for over three million refugees currently there. "This is a huge responsibility that Turkey has taken on, and Turkey certainly deserves recognition for this; there is no doubt about that," he said. "But using refugees or the refugee crisis as a means of political influence cannot be acceptable in reaching political decisions."
Reinsalu noted that the number of refugees has begun to rise again in recent weeks.

"Thus we can say that whether this has its own connection to political influence from Turkey's point of view or not, the reality is that these numbers have indeed begun to increase already," he said.

According to the minister, the EU has to learn from the 2015 refugee crisis and review its border control and security systems in order to be better prepared for a possible new crisis.

He also stressed that Turkey is a very substantial NATO ally, and he did not find that one should believe that cooperation with Turkey within the alliance is over now.

"It isn't," Reinsalu said. "What this actually means is that on this matter, with the diplomatic channels available to European states and all states have in NATO, as well as in other formats, we should certainly influence Turkey to find a solution that is rational and respects international law and practical diplomacy."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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