Ahead of his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tells dpa he believes the 3 billion euros pledged in November by the EU may not be enough to help Ankara cut the flow of refugees into Europe.
dpa: What do you hope to achieve from the joint session with the German government, specifically what do you expect on the refugee issue?
Davutoglu: Regarding bilateral issues, this will be the first such high-level, comprehensive meeting after the formation of the new government in Turkey. Of course the refugee issue will be one item on this agenda. But at the same time we will be talking about how to fight against terrorism, about intelligence cooperation and regional issues, in Syria, in Iraq, in the Middle East and in the Balkans.
On the EU-Turkish joint action plan on refugees, we will talk about what we have achieved. In the past two weeks Turkey has started implementing visa requirements for Syrians coming from third countries. Also, last week, we had a Turkish cabinet decision allowing Syrians to work in Turkey.
On the other side, the European Union was planning to fix and finalize the resettlement plans for refugees, and also to share the financial burden.
dpa: Europe is demanding Turkey stems illegal immigration from its territory to the EU. In return the bloc is offering Turkey 3 billion euros. Can Turkey really put an end to the migration and will this sum of money be enough?
Davutoglu: First of all, this is not a Turkish crisis. The root cause of this refugee crisis is not Turkey or anything related to Turkey. Turkey is the country which is most affected. We are not exporting a crisis - a crisis has been exported to Turkey. Now, it became a European crisis.
We have 2.5 million refugees in Turkey from Syria, from Iraq 300,000 more. Turkey has spent close to 10 billion dollars on the refugees.There are many things to be done, together with the EU, together with the international community. But nobody can expect from Turkey to carry the entire burden alone.
Three billion euros is just to show the political will to share the burden. We will review it again and again because nobody knows how long it will take. And we are not begging for money from the EU. But if there is a serious will to share the burden, than we will have to sit and talk about all of the details of the crisis.
dpa: Security forces started an operation against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] last month. Is there any chance to take up negotiations with the PKK again, or how will the government proceed?
Davutoglu: The PKK is a terrorist organization. In 2013 we started a solution process. And the basis of this process was to disarm PKK terrorists. They promised in 2013 to leave Turkey and lay down all arms. But instead of fulfilling this promise, they thought that they can restart terrorist activities and fighting.
In no democratic country a government tolerates the presence of armed groups and terrorists in some parts of the country. Establishing public order is the responsibility of the legitimately elected government.
We will continue these operations until they give up their arms, until they stop putting mines in the streets of the towns. These operations will continue until all towns and cities will be free of any illegal armed groups.
dpa: Chancellor Merkel a few days ago said Turkey still has "a very long way to go" to become a member of the EU. Do you ever expect Turkey to be a full member, and is this still Turkey's desire?
Davutoglu: Yes. This is not only a desire. This is a strategic objective for us. Of course, we know the difficulties like the Cyprus question. There will be a positive development in the Cyprus question to find a final resolution. There has been a very positive momentum in EU-Turkish relations in the last three months.
And at the end of all these improvements, I am sure, Turkey, one day, will be a member of the EU.
dpa: Turkish journalists are still in jail, yet President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan says there is full freedom of expression - how do all these go together?
Davutoglu: If there is anything limiting freedom of expression in Turkey I will be the first one to resist it. All types of criticism against the government were raised during last year's electoral campaigns. There was no limitation in any sense.
Many of the cases of journalists in jail are from the 1990s, not during the time of our government. All of them were arrested for illegal activities, which are not related to journalistic activities.
Recently there were some new cases, and the judicial process is continuing. The allegation is not regarding journalistic activities, but publication of classified documents.
dpa: Can you reveal any additional information about the investigations into the suicide bombing which killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul last week and which you have blamed on Islamic State?
Davutoglu: I want to express again my condolences and the condolences of 78 million Turks for our German guests and to their families. This was a great pain for all of us. Our intelligence and security services are working very hard. Certain networks have been identified. The investigation is continuing. All the details are being shared with German intelligence.
Friday, January 22, 2016 - 18:46
Monday, February 8, 2016 - 16:45