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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused European Union states of violating international law by turning down Ankara’s requests to extradite terrorists.
Speaking at a ceremony in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said that some European countries have repeatedly ignored Turkish requests to extradite suspects wanted for terrorism offenses despite extradition treaties.
Erdogan also rejected allegations that Turkey would be a “refugee buffer zone” after its recent deal with the EU.
"They say 'Turkey will receive all the illegal migrants in the EU,' or, 'Turkey would become a refugee buffer zone'. They are just trying to tease Turkish people," Erdogan said.
The agreement allows for the return of “irregular migrants” to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU. The resettlement program began earlier this week.
The deal also provides a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees, visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the EU, and fast-tracked EU accession for Turkey.
Erdogan mentioned how Turkey would only receive illegal migrants in the continent in a one-for-one exchange for refugees in Turkish camps.
"Of course, this does not mean that all 3 million refugees [in Turkey] will be sent to Europe. This exchange will last until the resettling of 72,000 refugees in Europe. After that number is reached, the issue will be discussed with the EU again," Erdogan said.
Stating that extradition law is similar to the EU Readmission Agreement, Erdogan added, "If the EU does not take necessary steps and deliver its commitments [under the refugee deal], Turkey will not apply the agreement either."
Around 2.7 million Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country are being sheltered in Turkish camps.
The deal is designed to break human-smuggling gangs who have been trafficking refugees across the Aegean Sea, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
Last year, more than a million refugees reached the EU and more than 800 drowned in the Aegean Sea as human traffickers crammed them on unseaworthy vessels heading for the Greek islands off Turkey’s coast.
2016.04.07 / 21:23