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    Syrian refugees stand inside the Moria camp during the demostration against the deal between EU and Turkey, on March 24, 2016 in Lesbos.

    Ankara's Use of Refugees as Political Bargaining Tool Angers Turkish Opposition

    © AFP 2017/ Fabio Bucciarelli
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    After Turkey's Minister of EU Affairs Omer Celik remarked that Ankara might reassess its migration agreement with the EU, Sputnik sat down with the representatives of Turkey's main opposition parties, who commented on the issue.

    In an interview late on Tuesday, Omer Celik, Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs, said that he believed the time had come for Turkey to reassess its migration agreement with the European Union, since it had become clear the EU was not following through on its promise to grant Turks visa-free travel.

    Similar remarks have been voiced by the country's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who said in a televised interview late Wednesday that the Turkish government may cancel the refugee deal with the European Union.

    Sputnik Tukriye sat down with Ozkan Yalim, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Filiz Kerestecioglu from the People's Democratic Party's (HDP), who said that the migration issue can't be used as political bargaining tool between states.

    Ozkan Yalim said that back in 2008, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as the country's Prime Minister, Turkey introduced a ban on election campaigning abroad. However, regardless of the ban, the country's authorities keep campaigning in support of the upcoming referendum.

    "I think that the President, Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet should pursue a more reserved and friendly dialogue with the European countries rather than using aggressive rhetoric and threatening them," Yalim told Sputnik.

    He also said that Turkey's foreign policy should be more balanced and should be aimed at the development of the country's trade relations and handling the crisis in the economy quickly.

    "We think that it is unacceptable to exercise political pressure using refugees as a political tool, as it contradicts the principles of morality and humanity," he said.

    However he further suggested that the remarks voiced by the country's officials will remain just words.

    "I am sure that it won't go beyond a narrative. Ahead of the upcoming referendum, the country's authorities are trying to shape public opinion. When several years ago Iraq banned the plane of Turkey's Minister of Energy from landing, there was no reaction from the Turkish authorities, however there was no constitutional referendum planned," he told Sputnik.

    The politician further noted that with one month before the referendum, the number of people set to vote against the constitutional amendments remains quite high. Thus the authorities are making every effort to attract voters. However, he reiterated, it is unacceptable from a moral point of view to manipulate the migration crisis for political purposes.

    Filiz Kerestecioglu from the People's Democratic Party's (HDP) told Sputnik that nobody is allowed to pursue political bargaining, using the lives of people who must come face to face with injustice in their everyday lives, and that refugees can't be used as bargaining chip. However, she explained, it has already become normal practice, not only for Turkey but for the West as well.

    External forces have been drawn into the Syrian conflict, which has resulted in severe hardships for the Syrian people, she said.  The people had to flee from war and bloodshed. And their troubles can't be used as a bargaining tool: it contradicts the norms of international law and human rights.

    However the politician suggested that the Turkish government will maintain tension with the European countries until the very referendum and will use it to win the voices of nationalists. Otherwise, the opposing sides would have taken every effort to settle the conflict from the very start.

    "The position of our party is the following: nobody, under any circumstances, has the right to speculate using human lives," she concluded.

    Tags:
    migrant crisis, refugees, Turkish referendum, European Union, Europe, Turkey
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