Turkish envoy on tackling refugee crisis: 'We do our best, and there is room for improvement'

Turkey is committing to proceed as agreed with what has been decided with the European Union to address the refugee crisis, the country’s ambassador to Greece Kerim Uras said on Wednesday during a press conference, noting that there is room for improvement on how the problem is being handled.

	Turkish envoy on tackling refugee crisis: 'We do our best, and there is room for improvement'

"I do not claim that everything is ideal; we do our best, and there is room for improvement,” the ambassador noted and added that "Turkey and Greece are both victims of the refugee crisis and are working together to address the issue.”

Uras also expressed the opinion that in 2016 there will be a sharp decrease in arrivals however “traffickers and refugees are very resourceful, so it is difficult to put an end to this.” He also estimated that 665 million people are potential migrants, noting that he hopes this will not become a reality because it is already difficult to handle the current situation.

"We need global, regional and bilateral cooperation to address the problem," he said and noted "we must not forget the big picture: [we have] to stop the war in Syria and to rebuild Syria."

Confronted with allegations that Turkey is not doing enough to stop the refugee flow, the ambassador said that Turkish authorities cannot prevent the movement of refugees and mirants towards the shores because legally they are not committing a crime. “What we do is we prevent them; ask for their papers and deprive them of their privileges in health and education if they leave the city where they were recorded," he added.

Presenting some official numbers, Uras said that from 2007 to 2015, arrests of undocumented migrants by the Turkish Coast Guard have jumped 1,667 pct and reached 85,842 in the first half of this year. Authorities also arrested about 4,000 traffickers in 2015.

“It is a matter of where to strike the balance between security and freedom," he said and added: "We must find a balance, because 40 million tourists come to Turkey every year and they would not like to undergo checks at every point they pass.”

Concerning the readmission agreement of migrants to their home countries, Uras said it is not working because there is proper identification of their home countries and because the countries where they are returned do not cooperate. According to the data presented, in 2015, Greece asked Turkey to readmit 11,000 people; Turkey agreed on 4,000 and eventually only eight migrants returned. “We must focus on cooperation with the embassies of the host countries,” he said.

He also said that joint patrols in the Aegean are off the table because Greece is against them and noted that the decrease in the number of migrants crossing at Evros is due to the better cooperation between Greek and Turkish authorities and not so much to the fence.

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