Erdogan offers ray of hope to Syrian refugees

A glimpse of hope

Business & Politics

February 7, 2016

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Erdogan said that Turkey has given shelter and security to nearly 3 million Syrian refugees would help the 25-30,000 refugees who have arrived at the country’s frontiers

Erdogan said that Turkey has given shelter and security to nearly 3 million Syrian refugees would help the 25-30,000 refugees who have arrived at the country’s frontiers

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered a glimmer of hope even as thousands of fresh Syrian refugees arrive at the border with Turkey, fleeing the increasing fighting in and around northern Syrian town and rebel stronghold of Aleppo.

Delivering the concluding speech at the World Tourism Forum, a global tourism event held in Istanbul, Erdogan said that Turkey has already given shelter and security to nearly 3 million Syrian refugees and that the country could definitely help the 25-30,000 refugees who have arrived at the country’s frontiers in the last couple of days.

However, Erdogan again sniped at Turkey’s European and American allies for providing arms and other assistance to Syrian Kurdish groups, calling them terrorist organisation. Erdogan said it was unfortunate that the West continued to ignore actions of terrorist groups such as PYD, an affiliate of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, which is branded a terrorist group and banned in Turkey.

“The PYD is supported and defended by the West which ignores its ethnic cleansing activities in the region, terrorist actions, cooperation with the current regime in Syria,” said Erdoğan.

“Their goal is not to lead our Kurdish brothers. On the contrary, they are trouble for our Kurdish brothers,” Erdoğan said. He threatened to use military force to crush these organisations, telling the near full-house gathering at the Istanbul Convention Centre, “We continue to struggle hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with the Turkish army, Turkish police and our village guards, and will continue to do so.”

Erdogan’s muscular speech was sprinkled with frequent cheering and slogan shouting by hundreds of youth, mainly workers of the ruling AK Party, which Erdogan leads.

Talking of tourism in Turkey, Erdogan reminded the house how the industry had grown rapidly under his watch, since he took charge as Prime Minister in 2003. ‘Turkey received 36 million tourists last year and we are well on target to reach 50 million in the next six years. We have emerged as the 6th most frequented destination in the world and this has been due to consistent support to the sector given by the government,’’ Erdogan said. He added that his government had focused tremendously on developing the infrastructure which has played an instrumental role in promoting tourism. ‘Earlier, we would have struggled to host a gathering of a few hundred delegates. Now, Istanbul has this world-class convention centre that can accommodate upto 20,000 delegates. We have built a lot of infrastructure, including metros, trams and airports to boost tourist arrivals,’’ he said.

He emphasised that the government was focused on pushing sustainable and eco-friendly tourism. ‘I remember we used to move around in Turkey with masks, the country was so polluted. Now we have no pollution problems and nearly 3 billion trees in our country, of which 2.5 billion have been planted in the last few years. This is our commitment to nature,’’ Erdogan said.

He also congratulated Bulut Bagci, the President of the World Tourism Forum for having successfully organised the third edition of the Forum, which, he said, was even better than the World Economic Forum in Davos. He said he expected the youth to take similar initiatives to propel Turkey to the top of the world.

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