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Iran Press TV

Erdogan: We may unleash refugee influx if EU, US don't provide more support

Iran Press TV

Thu Sep 5, 2019 02:13PM

Turkey's president says his country may be forced to stop preventing refugee flow into Europe if the European Union and the United States do not act to provide Ankara with more support towards retaining them.

"We may be forced to do this (open the gates) to get this (support)," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised address from the capital Ankara on Thursday.

Turkey has come to host a reported 3.6 million Syrian refugees since the Arab country found itself in the grips of foreign-backed militancy. Ankara itself, major European powers, and Washington are accused of helping the eruption of the crisis by either arming militants and Takfiri terrorists in Syria or providing safe passage for them into and out of the Arab country.

Turkey also invaded Syria twice in 2016 and 2018 to drive back Kurdish militants, whom it associates with anti-Ankara terrorists. It has been maintaining an unlawful presence in the Syrian territory ever since and is planning on setting up a "safe zone" there in cooperation with the US, where it can force back the refugees it hosts.

If the safe zone does not happen, "We will be forced to open the doors. You either give support, or if you won't, sorry, but we can only put up with so much," Erdogan said. "Are we going to shoulder this burden alone?" he asked.

The Turkish head of state alleged that his country had spent $40 billion (36 billion Euros) towards accommodating the refugees, while receiving only three billion euros from the EU, which has promised it six billion in assistance.

EU Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud denied the claim later on Thursday, telling reporters in Brussels that the EU had provided 5.6 billion Euros to Turkey, with "the remaining balance due to be allocated shortly."

In a bid to pressure the United States, Erdogan also said Turkey was "determined to set it (the so-called safe zone) up by the last week of September." "Our goal is to settle at least one million of our Syrian brothers and sisters in a safe zone along the border [which is] 450 kilometres long," he alleged.

Erdogan's comments came as the Syrian military and its ally Russia have joined forces to clean up the northwestern Syrian Idlib province that borders Turkey of the presence of Takfiri terrorists.

Ankara brands the joint operations as indiscriminate, saying they threaten to unleash refugees onto the Turkish soil. This is while Damascus and Moscow have, on numerous occasions, implemented moratoriums before their operations to give safe passage to those who seek to leave the battleground for other areas inside the Arab country.

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