Çepni: Turkey’s goal regarding Syria is to prevent a status for the Kurds

Turkish minister Derya Yanık said in Adana that Turkey's aim was not to protect the Syrians but to prevent "a Kurdish state in Syria".

During a visit to merchants and traders in Adana last Sunday, Derya Yanık, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs in Turkey, said in response to a question from a merchant about the plans for the five million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey that the government was not concerned with protecting the Syrians, but rather the areas of northern and eastern Syria: "Turkey did not take in these refugees out of charity.” The minister also announced that already by the end of 2023 none of the refugees should stay in Turkey.


The remarks by the Minister of Family and Social Affairs are the clearest words yet about Turkey's plans regarding Syrian refugees. Although the AKP/MHP government has repeatedly announced that it will build housing settlements across the border in northern Syria after the planned military operation, so far it has not received the green light from the other states involved for such an intervention in Syria's demographic structure. However, Minister Yanık said in Adana that this could not deter the Turkish government from its goal of "preventing the establishment of a Kurdish state". This is the first time that the AKP/MHP government's plans regarding northern and eastern Syria were openly stated.

Murat Çepni, co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Refugee and Migration Commission, assessed the minister's statements in an interview with ANF.


Murat Çepni said that treating the 'refugee issue' merely as election propaganda against the AKP misses the point: "The immigration issue, especially in relation to people fleeing to Turkey from Syria, is more of an election debate against the AKP in Turkish public opinion. We find this very reprehensible. To consider the immigration policy conducted by the state only as election campaign material against the AKP is to obscure the essential. However, criticising the AKP's handling of this issue alone also misses the essence of the matter. The policy pursued by the AKP is a state policy, this should be clearly emphasised. The basis is the policy against the status of the Kurdish people, especially in the region of northern and eastern Syria. In summary, the problems are not based on the refugees from Syria, but on preventing a status for the Kurdish people."

Çepni stressed that the elimination of the status fought for in Rojava is Turkey's basic state policy: "Of course, there are different variations of this basic policy. The AKP sees an opportunity in this policy, also in international relations. It also makes an economic profit from its policy. Therefore, the minister's remark ‘we protect not only the Syrians but also our borders’ is a threat against the status of the Kurdish people, especially in Rojava, which was fought for side by side by all the peoples living there. For this, the government is doing what it can, because it sees this status as a threat. With her words, the minister has in a way made government policy clear."


The AKP has announced plans to resettle Syrians living in Turkey in the Turkish occupied zone in northern Syria, in the face of rising hostility towards migrants as a result of its polarising policies. This plan is given as one of the reasons for an invasion attack. Recently, there has been increased news that many refugees have been sent to Syria. HDP politician Murat Çepni pointed out that this move is part of a long-term plan to prevent a Kurdish status: "One of the things the government has been propagandising the most has been the houses they have built in this region, especially in Afrin. Housing estates have been built and we know that a district administrator has also been appointed there. None of this was done to heal the wounds of the war in Syria. The Syrian refugees have been sent there from Turkey and settled in these houses. This settlement is meant to create new facts. This is part of a long-term plan to change the demographic structure in a targeted way. In the long term, the AKP government wants to create a social and political structure dependent on it."


Çepni remarked that many asylum seekers are sent illegally from deportation camps to the settlements in northern Syria. He stressed that racist attacks against these people should not be tolerated under any circumstances: "Many people are sent there from deportation camps. One of them is the Harmandalı deportation camp in Izmir. We have conducted investigations on the spot, but we do not know the exact number of people living there. Every now and then, the ministry says that a hundred people, two hundred people, two hundred and fifty, three hundred people have been sent, but we don't know the exact number and we don't know how many people live in these deportation camps. These are hermetically sealed areas from the outside. From the information we have received, we know that people who have fled the war are sent back to the centre of the war. They are being sent to their deaths. Similarly, people are being sent to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and to ISIS-threatened regions in Syria. These policies do not imply a solution, neither for the Syrian population nor for migration policy in general. They are manifestations of an opportunistic policy that is exclusively oriented towards the short-term needs of the government. The AKP government itself is partly responsible for the fact that these people had to leave their places and homes. There is a policy of war and occupation due to which people are forced to leave their homes. On the run, they are exposed to all kinds of oppression and repression, which also violate international agreements. Confronted with racist and fascist policies, they are exposed to a lynch mob. Therefore, we stress that those responsible for this situation are first and foremost Turkey, as well as the USA, Russia and the dominant powers in the region."