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Erdogan: West more concerned about ‘animal & gay rights than plight of 23mn Syrians'

Erdogan: West more concerned about ‘animal & gay rights than plight of 23mn Syrians'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Western countries of being deaf to the plight of millions of people in war-torn Syria. He said they're more worried about “so-called freedoms, rights, and gay marriage.”

"Shame on those who deny the sensitivity they show to the whales, seals and turtles in the sea to the right to life of 23 million Syrians,Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying. 

"Shame on those who put their security, welfare and comforts ahead of other people's survival,” the Turkish president said, addressing the crowd in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. He added that the West possessed a “mentality to shame, a remnant of slavery and colonialism.”

"Shame on those who in the West divert their sensitivity to the so-called freedoms, rights, and law shown in the debate over gay marriage away from Syrian women, children, and innocents in need of aid," Erdogan said.

Earlier this week, Turkey’s president refused to bring his country’s anti-terror laws in line with EU standards, describing Europe lecturing Ankara as a “black comedy,” because it allegedly offers safe haven to terrorist groups’ political wings and refuses to fix its own flawed laws.

“European countries continue to be safe havens for the political extensions of terrorist groups. When this is the case, it's a piece of black comedy that the EU criticizes our country over the definition of terrorism,” Erdogan said in Ankara on Tuesday.

In an effort to follow the philosophy that the best offense is a good defense, Erdogan said it is Europe that should be amending its laws.

“First of all, we expect EU countries to fix their own laws that support terrorism,” Erdogan said, calling on the EU to answer why it allowed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) activists to set up tents in front of the European Parliament in March.

Turkey is currently in a standoff with the EU over its demand that Turkey amend its anti-terrorism laws to secure visa-free travel in Europe for Turkish citizens. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned on Thursday that the migrant deal between the EU and Turkey would collapse unless Ankara honors its commitments. He specifically stressed that Turkey must make changes to its anti-terror law.

READ MORE: Turkey will send migrants back to EU if visa-free deal fails – Erdogan party’s MP

Critics believe Ankara's ambiguous anti-terror laws are being used to stifle dissent. However, Ankara insists the legislation is needed to battle Kurdish militants in the country's southeast, as well as threats from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in neighboring Syria and Iraq. 

Turkey has repeatedly insisted it has met all of the criteria laid out by Brussels.

Burhan Kuzu, a high-ranking deputy in Turkey’s ruling AKP party and former adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, promised to send migrants back to the EU if the European Parliament won’t grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens. “The European Parliament will discuss the report that will open up visa-free travel in Europe to Turkish citizens. If it makes the wrong decision, we will send the migrants back!” he wrote on Twitter.

With Europe hit by the biggest migrant crisis in decades, the EU and Ankara signed the migrant deal in March. According to the agreement, Turkey would take back refugees seeking asylum in the EU in exchange for a multi-billion euro aid package and some political concessions, including the visa-free regime. So far, Turkey has readmitted 386 migrants, 14 of them Syrians, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.