For the second time, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has threatened to flood Europe with 3.6 million migrants living in Turkey if European countries refer to the Turkish invasion of Syria as an “occupation”.
“We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” Erdogan said during a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party on Thursday, according to the Reuters.
Erdogan’s words come in response to a statement released the day before by the EU which called on “Turkey to put an end to unilateral military action” in northeastern Syria.
Aside from this, the Turkish leader was also likely enraged by the EU’s harsh criticism of Turkish plans to create a so-called ‘safe zone’ in the territory that the Turks plan to take. The bloc has repeatedly said that forcibly resettling refugees and migrants in Turkey there wouldn’t “satisfy international criteria for refugee return as laid down by UNHCR”.
The EU also worries that Turkey may seek to ensure that no more Kurds live in the area near its border with northeastern Syria.
“Any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable. The EU will not provide stabilization or development assistance in areas where the rights of the local population are being ignored,” the statement added.
International criticism over the Turkish invasion has become deafeningly loud. In addition to the various EU member-states, others like India, Egypt, Israel, UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia have also issued condemnations of the Turkish invasion.
This isn’t the first time the Erdogan has threatened to flood Europe with millions upon millions of migrants. Last month, Erdogan threatened to “open the gates” to allow Syrian migrants to leave Turkey for European countries unless a “safe zone” inside war-torn Syria is established very soon.
Weeks before that Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.”