Religions and children cannot be the victims of Terrorism and Organised Crime – PAM Meeting in Ankara on migrations and security

Religions and children cannot be the victims of Terrorism and Organised Crime – PAM Meeting in Ankara on migrations and security
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) in collaboration with the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, organised, at the specific request of the President of the UN General Assembly last year, a three-day international event dedicated to the Nexus between Population Movements and Security, in the framework of the activities of its 1st and 3rd PAM Standing Committees.  Hosted by the Grand National Assembly, the Meeting was held in Ankara and Gaziantep from 19 to 21 June 2019 with the participation of over 130 delegates from more than 20 countries, among which PAM member parliaments, international parliamentary organizations, governments, United Nations Agencies, other international organizations, and civil society.
Participants were welcomed by H.E. Mustafa Şentop, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and by Hon. Atay Uslu, Head of the Turkish Delegation to PAM. They were addressed by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğluv, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, UN Assistant Secretary General Panos Moumtzis, OCHA Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis; Mr. Francois Reybet-Degat, UNHCR MENA Deputy Director for the Iraq and Syria situations; Mr. Ilias Chatzis, Chief of the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section; Mr. Tommaso de Cataldo, IOM Programme Coordinator; UN Assistant Secretary Michèle Coninsx, Security Council CTED Executive Director through a video-message, as well as various officials of the Ministry of the Interior, Education and Health of Turkey. 
In her opening remarks, PAM President, Senator Alia Bouran highlighted some of the most pressing issues related to migration flows, as a consequence of a combination of push and pull factors, such as political instability and civil conflicts, globalization, poverty, climate change effects, political persecution and human rights violations. She praised Turkey’s generosity and that of other countries in hosting refugees and called for an integrated approach to cope with this issue. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, President Bouran underlined that the Palestinian state should be a part of the Middle East. She concluded by stating that terrorism is not the limits, religion and identity, and that the only way to fight radical thinking is to ensure the right to live with dignity.
H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğluv, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, highlighted the humanitarian aspect of population movements and called countries of origin, transit and destination to cooperate more closely. He also pointed out three issues that negatively affect the stability of the Mediterranean: the situation in Syria, for which he expects the establishment of a commission for the preparation of the new Syrian constitution; Libya, on which a new and comprehensive conference will be organized; and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, highlighting that the two state solution is the only one able to bring peace and stability to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The Minister also referred to the initiatives undertaken by his government for a long-lasting solution to the Cypriot issues, based on the political equality of the two sides. On terrorism, he underlined the necessity of drying their sources and destroying terrorists’ ideologies together, stressing that it is wrong to accuse any religion while blaming the terrorists. 
The Speaker of the Grand National Assembly praised the importance of parliamentary diplomacy and the unique role of PAM. He referred to the impact that security has on population movements, in terms of social security, which ensures that people maintain their minimum standards of living, and to the economic imbalance and lack of minimum economic standards which lead to population movements, triggers migrations, forces people to migrate. He concluded by stressing the importance of preventing conflicts and making the whole world livable and safe.
Hon. Atay Uslu reminded that migration is not only a security dimension, but also has social, cultural, opportunity and crisis dimensions. He also reminded that the proportion of immigrants involved in crime is less than the locals, also in Turkey. Expressing that migration is not a good or bad event by itself, he stated that if migration is managed well, opportunities also arise, and that the solution is integration, harmonization, and the elimination of problems in the countries of origin.
The UN ASG Moumtzis referred to the situation of the 29,000 children under the age of 12, born from people associated with ISIS, sheltered in Al Hol camp in North-Eastern Syria, and called for a political approach to their return to their countries, as they are the most vulnerable and are stigmatized in their community; they should be seen as children, their rights respected, their nationality determined and rehabilitation provided. 
The interventions and open sessions offered a unique opportunity for a very comprehensive and wide platform for a healthy debate among the delegates and the speakers. Experiences, good practices and governance were also exchanged between delegations during informal bilateral meetings. On the margins of the conference the delegates also had the time for an informal exchange of views with H.E.  Çavuşoğluv, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, who also met separately the Israeli and Cypriot delegations.
Following the parliamentary debates in Ankara, the participants of the conference travelled to Gaziantep on 21 June to meet with the local authorities to learn first-hand about the response to the refugee crisis in the Turkish border areas with Syria. Delegates visited the Nizip refugee camp where they witnessed the wide array of facilities and services provided to the asylum seekers, including housing, medical centers, schools, children’s play areas, adult education classes, a library, and a fire fighting unit, among other facilities. It was highlighted that over 90 percent of refugees residing in Turkey do not live in camps, but rather lead productive lives as members of the Turkish society. Discussions also touched upon the return of refugees to those parts which have been stabilized, secured and restored. The lack of social conflict between the local population and the refugees in Turkey was displayed as a result of a successful and comprehensive humanitarian approach to the refugee crisis that other countries may take the best practices from.
The outcome of the discussion will be used as basis of the PAM future action on the subject and for the resolutions to be submitted for adoption on the occasion of the 14th PAM Plenary, which will be held in February 2020 in Athens, Greece.//

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issued on 24.06.2019
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