Turkey’s president has vowed to send millions of refugees to Europe if countries do not back his proposals for them to be settled in a “safe zone” in Syria.
Doubling down on his recent abrasive rhetoric, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would “open the gates” for asylum seekers if European countries failed to support Ankara’s plans to resettle them in Syria’s northeast.
“If Turkey’s plans for the return [of the refugees] … is not supported, we will have no choice but to open our borders. We would open the borders, they can go to Europe,” Mr Erdogan said.
Turkey hosts about 3.6 million Syrians – who fled conflict in their homeland – but wants to resettle up to two million of them back across the border.
Earlier this month Mr Erdogan told European leaders he would “send 3.6 million refugees your way”, in retaliation to stinging international criticism of his country’s military operation in northern Syria.
The president said yesterday that Turkey would clear Kurdish YPG militia from the region – near its border – if Russia did not fulfil its obligations under a bilateral accord clinched this week.