Erdogan, has threatened to “open the gates” to allow Syrian migrants to leave Turkey for European countries unless a “safe zone” inside war-torn Syria is established very soon.
Erdogan’s strong words come amid rising tensions with the United States over delays in the creation of a safe zone in Syria, and especially over the fate of a key US-allied Kurdish militia, the YPG, which Turkey regards as a terror organization.
“Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450 km border,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara on Thursday. “Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30 km (20 miles) depth in northern Syria. This way, we can provide them with humanitarian living conditions.”
“This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates,” Erdogan warned. “Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union.”
Turkey is currently hosting close to 3.6 million Syrian ‘refugees,’ many of whom have arrived since the height of the migrant crisis in 2016. Erdogan’s latest threat stokes fears of another massive rush of people into Europe which could make the 2015-2016 migrant crisis look like a walk in the park.
This isn’t the first time that the Turkish government has threatened to ‘open the flood gates’ to inundate Europe with migrants.
In August, Turkey warned European countries that, if it wanted to, it could easily destroy Europe’s governments by letting millions of migrants from the Middle East pass through its borders to make their way into Europe.
In a statement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.” VoE