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Turkey slams 'crowing cockerel' Macron in refugees row

The comments were made after Macron criticised Turkey [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2019

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Ankara hit back at France's president on Tuesday after he criticised Turkey for its human rights issues pertaining to refugees.

Turkey on Tuesday accused French President Emmanuel Macron of behaving like a "crowing cockerel" after he criticised Ankara on human rights and said it was using migrants to pressure the European Union.

"Macron assailing Turkey amounts to overstepping the limit," Mevlut Cavusoglu told the official Anadolu news agency.

"I liken him to a cockerel crowing while his feet are buried in mud," he said.

Macron told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in a keynote speech that 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall key human rights were being called into question in some European countries, citing Turkey as an example where the situation was going backwards.

"Turkey, where the rule of law is regressing, judicial procedures opened against defenders of human rights, journalists and academics should be the subject of our vigilance," he said

Cavusoglu also attacked Macron's comments in the same speech in which he implied that Turkey could be using its control over migrant routes to press the EU for concessions on Syria policy.

"How many refugees has Macron let in his country?" asked Cavusoglu, hitting out at the French leader for hosting at the Elysee palace Syria Kurdish militia representatives deemed to be "terrorists" by Ankara.

Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Turkey would start allowing Syrian refugees to move on to Europe if Ankara did not get more international support.

Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees and recently called for a "safe zone" in the war-torn country's northeast to which they could return.

In Strasbourg, Macron noted there had been an increase in migrants leaving Turkey for Greece and he was "fully aware" of what Greece was experiencing.

"You are perfectly right to say that this is a means of pressure by Turkey," he said in response to a question from a Greek lawmaker.

He said he did not think the right response would be "to give into pressure", adding there still had to be cooperation with Turkey.

"But in no way can our agenda in Syria be dictated by pressure from Turkey."

Greece is hosting some 70,000 mostly Syrian refugees and migrants who have fled their countries since 2015, and crossed over from neighbouring Turkey.

Under an agreement reached with the European Union in 2016, Turkey has made greater efforts to limit departures towards the five Greek islands closest to its shores.

But the number of arrivals has been steadily climbing in recent months causing a dangerous burden in the camps of the islands that are in the forefront of the migrant influx.

Deadly fire

On Sunday, at least two migrants died in a fire at a Greek island refugee camp, a report said, with the blaze triggering rioting by angry residents.

After the fire was extinguished, police fired tear gas to control a crowd angered by the time it had taken for the fire brigade to arrive at the Moira camp on the island of Lesbos, according to an AFP correspondent.

Additional officers were sent from Athens in C-130 army airplanes in a bid to contain the situation.

Athens News Agency, quoting police sources, reported that a woman and a child had died in the fire.

An Afghan migrant eyewitness, however, told AFP a woman and two children had died, describing how the blaze spread to six or seven containers used to house residents.

"We found two children completely charred and a woman dead. We gave the children covered in blankets to the fire brigade," Fedouz, 15, said.

The Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection Lefteris Economou, along with the Chief of Police and the Secretary General for Migration Policy, were heading to Lesbos.

Migrants said they were angry over the time it took for the fire brigade to arrive, claiming that a long delay had led to the fatalities.

In a statement, police said the riots occurred after two separate fires broke out, firstly outside and then inside Moria camp with a time gap of twenty minutes.

The camp hosts around 13,000 people but has facilities for just 3,000.

It has become like a small town with UN refugee agency tents for around 8,000 people sprawling into the olive fields of nearby Moria village. Others are housed in containers.

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