Turkey’s Islamist president has promised to “open the gates” and say “goodbye” to hundred of thousands of migrants who could be transported into Europe by “bus” and even “plane”, demanding the West gives millions more in aid.
“We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. We will be patient but we will do what we have to. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing”, said President Tayyip Erdoğan last night.
He was addressing business leaders in Ankara shortly after a surprise late-night agreement for a Syrian ceasefire following talks involving 17 nations including Russia, Iran and the United States.
As Russian warplanes continue to bomb Aleppo in support of a Syrian government offensive, tens of thousands of people have been fleeing to the Turkish border.
“There is a chance the new wave of refugees will reach 600,000 if air strikes continue. We are making preparations for it,” Mr. Erdoğan claimed according to Euractive. However, his country would only “show patience up to a point and then we’ll do what’s necessary”, he threatened.
“In the past we have stopped people at the gates to Europe, in Edirne we stopped their buses. This happens once or twice and then we’ll open the gates and wish them a safe journey, that’s what I said,” Mr. Erdogan said later, defending his comments.
“I am proud of what I said. We have defended the rights of Turkey and the refugees. And we told then [the Europeans]: ‘Sorry, we will open the doors and say ‘goodbye’ to the migrants.”
He also criticised calls by the United Nations (UN) for Turkey to reopen its border with Syria, complaining that the international body had spent less than half a billion dollars tackling the crisis.
“Shame on you! Shame on you! The United Nations should give advice to other countries — and then we can send the refugees to these countries,” he said.
In October last year, the European Union (EU) led by Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed a €3 billion aid package including fast tracked access the Schengen free movement zone for Turkish citizens, if the nation made some attempt at stemming the massive flow of migrants from the Middle East.