Ankara rejects Liz Truss’ plan to send UK asylum seekers to Turkey

A tentative plan by Liz Truss to send unwanted asylum seekers to Turkey was rejected by the Ankara government hours after it was presented.

The Times reported on Saturday morning that the foreign secretary – who is in the running to become the next Conservative prime minister – would like to open negotiations to send migrants to countries like Turkey.

This would follow the deal struck in the spring with Rwanda, which took more than £100million from the British government in return for taking in deported refugees crossing the English Channel in small boats.

But later on Saturday, Turkey hit back at the proposal, warning the country would not become a “refugee camp or border guard” for any other nation. Turkey, a nation of 85 million, already has the largest refugee population in the world, including 3.7 million people who fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.

“We hope that these claims about Ms. Truss in the press are unfounded,” Tanju Bilgiç, the ministry’s official spokesperson, said in a statement on Saturday.

“It is out of the question for our nation, which for eight years has hosted the largest number of refugees in the world, to assume a heavier burden at the request of a third country and, moreover, to contribute to an incompatible approach with international politics. asylum rules.

He added: “Turkey will not become a refugee camp or a border guard for another country, nor in any way assume the international obligations of a third country.”

Truss’s campaign team played down the idea that she had drawn up a formal plan to transport defaulting refugees to countries like Turkey. However, they admitted she raised the idea with Christopher Chope, a Tory backbench MP.

“Liz supports the Rwandan policy and supports its extension to other countries,” her spokesperson said.

More than 14,000 refugees have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, increasing political pressure on the government to tackle the problem. Despite the agreement with the government in Kigali, no refugees have yet been sent to Rwanda, partly thanks to successful legal challenges.

All of the Conservative leadership candidates have pledged to maintain Rwanda’s controversial policy, which has been widely criticized by charities, human rights groups and bishops.

Turkey struck a €6 billion deal with the EU in 2016 as Brussels sought to avoid a repeat of Europe’s 2015 migration crisis. This has led to a sharp drop in the number of people crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece.

But Turkey’s large refugee population has become a source of intense public anger as households grapple with nearly 80% inflation and a plummeting value of the lira.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who faces a tough bid for re-election in a contest due to take place before June 2023, is under pressure to emulate the country’s main opposition parties in pledging to send refugees back in Syria.

Truss, who traveled to Ankara last month for meetings with senior Turkish officials, used the trip to describe Turkey as an “important partner for the UK”, citing energy, defense and security as key areas of cooperation.

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