Erdogan: Free EU-VISA Pass for all Turks or Europe wil face new migrant wave
20 April, 2016
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that unless the EU loosens its purse strings and fulfils its commitment for financial aid to tackle the refugee crisis, Ankara could open the borders for those seeking asylum in Europe.
“In the past we have stopped people at the gates to Europe, in Edirne [in northwest Turkey] we stopped their buses. This can happen once or twice, and then we'll open the gates and wish them a safe journey,” Daily Sabah cited President Erdogan as saying during an address to the Young Businessmen Confederation of Turkey (TÜGİK) taking place in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan said he had voiced similar warnings to European leaders not just once, but “at every opportunity.”
The Turkish president claimed his country has already spent $9 billion on refugees – far more than the $455 million received from the UN to help with refugee accommodation.
The EU has promised €3 billion (US$3.4 billion) in aid, but Erdogan said Turkey has not seen any sign of the money.
Erdogan added that “it is hypocritical to remind Turkey of its international responsibilities,” in a clear reference to the UN’s urging of Ankara to welcome the Syrian refugees concentrating on its border.
Turkey has already accepted 2.6 million refugees, more than any other country, said Erdogan, pressing the UN to address its member states to make them accept some of the refugees currently residing in Turkey.
The Turkish president also made it clear he saw no way of ending the Syrian crisis without creating safe zones.
Although the Syrian conflict will soon be entering its sixth year, Erdogan asserted that it is the Russian airstrikes started four months ago that have forced Syrians to flee to Turkey. Another force generating the refugee influx is “Iran-backed groups” within Syria that are carrying out “merciless massacres,” Erdogan said, claiming that “ethnic cleansing” is underway in Syria.
There is a chance the new wave of refugees will reach 600,000 if airstrikes continue. We are making preparations for it,” he said, adding that so far Turkey was showing patience, but is ready to do “what's necessary” and have buses ready to re-route refugees on to the EU.