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Erdogan steps up pro-refugee rhetoric as 20,000 Ukrainians come to Turkey

The Turkish president’s pro-refugee rhetoric aims to deliver a positive message to Western allies and slash the opposition, but activists wonder if it is sincere.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged that “unfortunate people” who have sought shelter in Turkey would not be sent to their war-torn countries, simultaneously attacking the opposition’s anti-migrant rhetoric and signaling to the Western allies that he would not “weaponize” the refugee issue.

Speaking at the International Benevolence Awards ceremony on March 15, Erdogan stressed that Turkey would continue to host people fleeing oppression in their world. “Yesterday, they came from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan,” he said. “Today, they come from Ukraine. We do not know where they will come from tomorrow. But do not doubt that this country will remain a haven for those … who flee murderers, who put their trust in Turkey as the only place of safety.”

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