Turkey threatens to reopen EU migrant route

Turkey threatens to reopen EU migrant route

Turkey plans to resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria and has threatened to reopen the sea route into Europe if the international community does not support the plan. 

Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, controls parts of northern Syria and it says 350,000 Syrians have already returned to the enclaves. 

President Tayyip Erdogan demanded financial help or he would reopen the migrant route across the Mediterranean. The strongman president said during a speech in Ankara: “This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates.

“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.” 

The EU and Turkey agreed in March 2016 to reduce the migrant flow into Europe in return for billions in aid.

Ankara said it had only received a fraction of the promised aid from the EU.

Last month the number of migrant arrivals in Greece spiked last month and a week ago numerous boats carrying about 600 migrants arrived simultaneously. It was the first coordinated arrival since 2016. 

Erdogan’s armed forces were setting up a “safe zone” with the US in the northeast of Syria where more migrants could be moved, the embattled president added.

“Our goal is for at least 1 million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450km border,” Erdogan said in Ankara.

Turkey is coming under increasing pressure in Syria’s Idlib region where the Russian-backed Assad regime has launched an offensive.

“We are saying we should form such a safe zone that we, as Turkey, can build towns here in lieu of the tent cities here. Let’s carry them to the safe zones there,” Erdogan told the media. 

“Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30km 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 said.

“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 hosts millions of Syrians. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

 

 

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