Erdogan Threatens to ‘Open the Gates’ to Migrants Unless Turkey Receives Aid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial heads meeting in Ankara, on November 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has demanded international aid to help with the Syrian migrants in his country, threatening to “open the gates” to Europe.

The Turkish leader said that he wants to create a “security zone” on the Syrian border with Turkey and settle around one million asylum seekers and has demanded aid from the international community to carry out the proposed project, Bild reports.

“Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the security zone we will build along our 450-kilometre border,” Erdoğan said and continued: “Give us logistical support, and we can build houses up to 30 kilometres into the north of Syria.”

“Either that happens, or we open the gates,” he added, claiming that the European Union had not given any support to the proposed project.

EU spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud, however, noted that the political bloc had paid 5.6 billion euros to Turkey as part of the 2016 EU-Turkey migrant pact out of the agreed six billion total agreed upon.

Turkey currently houses over three million Syrians who fled the country’s civil war and the threats are not the first time Erdogan has said he would open the borders to Greece.

As early as April 2016, Erdoğan made threats to open the border, demanding that the EU allow Turkish citizens visa-free access to the union.

The following year, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu threatened to cancel the migrant deal if Greece did not hand over several military officers who attempted to claim asylum after the failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.

Turkey has also seen a recent influx of new asylum seekers from Syria in recent weeks with hundreds crossing the border at the end of August and being met with tear gas from Turkish authorities.

Greece has also seen a surge in new arrivals as 500 migrants arrived on the island of Lesbos last week, the largest number in a single day since the signing of the EU-Turkey pact.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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