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Europe turning Mediterranean into graveyard: Erdogan

Ankara: Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Europe on Thursday of having turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard of political refugees, in a speech at the G20 meeting held in Ankara.

“European countries that have turned the Mediterranean Sea, the cradle of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, into a grave, are part of the sin of the death of every single refugee,” Erdogan said.

The head of the Turkish state spoke as he held a photo of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian-Kurdish boy who was found drowned on a Turkish beach and whose image has become a symbol of the suffering of Syrian refugees who want to reach Europe.

“The body of a three-year-old boy, who died on a boat carrying refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, washed up on our shores,” he said.

“What drowned in the sea were not only refugees, but our humanity. These are our values that are being drowned in the Mediterranean. Every single refugee who has become the subject of inhumane treatment on the borders, and who are even being sent to death intentionally through sinking boats, is the bitter symbol of this reality,” he added.

Erdogan accused Western countries of having “double-standards” and not doing enough to combat terrorism.

“I express with sorrow that Western countries do not show necessary sensitivity toward the global terrorism that burns many countries, particularly Syria and Iraq,” the president said.

He alluded to the problem of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which, though considered a terrorist group by the EU and the US, in addition to Ankara, is allegedly not fought in Europe as much as the Turkish government hopes.

Erdogan addressed the ministers of labour of the countries represented in the G20, the group of major industrialised and emerging economies in the world, who are meeting on Thursday and Friday in Ankara.