Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered an angry speech on Thursday condemning Europe and “the West” for its responsibility in creating the migrant crisis currently consuming Europe, accusing Western countries of turning the Mediterranean Sea into a “grave.”
“European countries that turned the Mediterranean Sea, the cradle of the one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, into a grave, are part of the sin of the death of every single refugee,” Erdogan said, accusing Europe of not showing the “necessary sensitivity toward the global terrorism that burns many countries, particularly Syria and Iraq.” Erdogan was speaking at the opening ceremony of the B20 conference.
He went on to accuse the West of fabricating the situations that cause such crises for profit. “‘There is oil in Libya and Iraq, so let’s seize the oil-wells.’ Isn’t this the situation now? Eighty percent of Iraq’s oil wells are under the control of the West. It is the same in Libya. While all these realities exist, this [international] structure is not acceptable,” he claimed. As part of his speech, he also called for the abolition of the United Nations’ five permanent member policy at the Security Council:
That’s why we say ‘The world is bigger than five.’ We say ‘the fates of nearly 200 countries cannot be left to the decision of one of these five countries.’ That’s why somebody has to talks about this. Erdoğan is being depicted as a ‘bad guy’ in the world media just because he talks about it. I will continue to speak the truth throughout my life.
“I once again condemn some countries that on the one hand are fighting against a certain terror organization while on the other hand supporting another one directly or indirectly,” he added. This jab appeared to be directed towards both the United States and Russia, as Erdogan has long called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad– who enjoys support from Russia– a “terrorist,” and blamed Western nations for supporting anti-ISIS Kurdish groups it considers terrorists.
Erdogan himself has been accused of working with the Islamic State while publicly launching an airstrike campaign against the terrorist group. Multiple reports have cited ISIS terrorists as claiming that Turkey has been sympathetic to them in the past.
Erdogan followed up his speech with remarks delivered to CNN, where he explicitly blamed the West for creating the crisis once again. “To be honest, the whole Western world is to be blamed in my opinion on this issue,” he stated.
Erdogan’s statements have followed the widespread dissemination of a photo of a Syrian child dead in Turkish waters. The child, identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, was attempting to travel with his family out of Turkey to Greece. “When I saw the picture, I was sitting with my family. Unfortunately, my grandsons were there too and of course it had a devastating impact on all of us,” Erdogan said of Kurdi.
While Turkey has taken in two million Syrian refugees and established numerous facilities for them, reports from as early as 2014 indicate that Syrians are often taken advantage of by the native population, especially Syrian refugee women. Kurdi’s aunt, Teema, hinted at this, noting that she had been urging her family to leave Turkey in part because “It is horrible the way they treat Syrians there.“