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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, at the Round Table Meeting on International Cooperation on Migration and Refugees at the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly, 19 September 2016, New York

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me today to co-chair this roundtable.

I would like to thank the UN Secretary General for organizing this event.

Turkey is both a transit and a destination country.

We have the largest refugee population in the world, with more than 3 million people.

2.7 million of them are Syrians. This is about 15% of Syria’s pre-war population.

We are doing our best to make them live in dignity to improve their living standards.

10% of Syrians in Turkey are accommodated in camps. The rest live in cities.
Every single Syrian is under the special protection regime.

This regime provides basic services such as health and education. It also enables Syrians to obtain work permits. Eventually we will be giving citizenship as well.

Needless to say, our ultimate objective is to create the conditions for Syrian people to return home.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are doing everything in our capacity to stop irregular migration and encourage legal movements.
What we do in the Aegean Sea is unique. We are fighting against human smuggling. We are saving lives at sea.

Furthermore, we pursue our well-known “open door” policy.

We take back all the irregular migrants from Aegean islands, regardless of their origin.

The result is spectacular. In 2015, irregular migration claimed the lives of about 1.000 people in the Aegean Sea.

For more than six months in 2016, we completely stopped loss of lives in Turkish waters.

Daily irregular crossings dropped to an average of 100 from 7.000.

Overall, in the last six months, our efforts had a deterrent effect for more than 300.000 irregular migrants to reach Europe.

In a nutshell, by crushing migrant smuggling networks, we transformed the Aegean Sea to an area of stability again.

This model could be exemplary for other parts of the world. We are ready to share our experience.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The New York Declaration we adopt today will be key in putting our commitments into practice. Therefore we have to spend more effort for its implementation.

The outline is simple. We need to promote respect for international humanitarian law.

We also need to develop solutions with and for people. Long-term development assistance is the primary key.

We must join forces for effective border controls. Countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling is beyond one country’s ability.

Finally, as politicians and leaders, building a positive perception about refugees and migrants must be among our primary responsibilities. We should not forget that these people have basic human rights.

As long as we follow human-oriented policies, there is no room for failure.

Thank you.