UNHCR head: "Turkey shouldn't be treated as a buffer"
Recent improvements on refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey are welcome, but other European countries could use these as an excuse to dump their own responsibilities on Turkey, warned UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres in an interview published today. "We will never agree to the idea that Turkey should be a kind of buffer or that protection should be dumped into Turkey from other areas in Europe," he said. Guterres, a former Portuguese premier and the first UN refugee commissioner to visit Turkey, met with President Abdullah Gul, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, State Minister Egemen Bagis and Interior Minister Besir Atalay to talk about Turkey's new legislation on refugees and asylum seekers which will soon be submitted to Parliament. Saying that the protection space in Turkey has been enlarged, he added that his agency now has better access to asylum seekers. Guterres, however, also stressed the enormous challenges that Turkey faces due to its location and that for this reason the UNHCR believes strongly that this burden must be shared. "We believe that there must be international solidarity with Turkey in the assumption of the responsibility to protect refugees," he said. "We appeal to other countries to also join these groups to resettlement countries, expressing their solidarity in sharing the burden with Turkey."