Turkey will let Syrian refugees on its territory leave for Europe if the West does not give more financial support to Ankara and does not support its plans to create a security zone in Syria where refugees could be placed, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
“If you can’t accept that, we will open the gates. Let them go wherever they want to go,” he said of the refugees. The creation of a 32km zone within northwestern Syria will allow refugees in Turkey to return to their homeland. “It will enable them to meet all their needs for education, health care. It will allow them to live on their own land and leave the tents and containers,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan made the statements during an interview with Reuters. The Turkish president has made that threat several times in the past, with new waves of refugees and migrants leaving the Turkish shores in the past few weeks and landing in Greece.
The financial assistance Turkey receives from the EU is insufficient for the burden of the 3.6 million refugees who fled to Turkey from neighboring Syria, Erdogan stressed. “We have received 3 billion euros, the EU had promised 6 billion euros to improve the living conditions of refugees in Turkey, but only 2.22 billion euros were disbursed this June. We have spent $ 40 billion so far,” said Erdogan.
The Turkish president noted that he has also contacted German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the refugee issue and that discussions would continue in New York, during the United Nations General Assembly on September 24-25.