Erdogan slams EU, threatens to ‘open the gates’ for refugees fleeing to Europe
Syrian people wait in front of the Oncupinar crossing gate to go back to Syria, near the town of Kilis, in south-central Turkey, on February 11, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday slammed EU leaders calling for Turkey to open its borders to thousands more refugees, AFP reported.
As Syrians pour out of Aleppo, currently under bombardment from the Syrian army and Russian airstrikes, tens of thousands have congregated on the northern border, awaiting entry into Turkey.
Erdogan threatened to send the millions already inside the country out of Turkey and into European states unless the international community steps up its support for Turkey. “We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing. We will do the necessary," Erdogan said.
“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,” he added, referring to a city near the borders with Bulgaria and Greece.
Turkey's Oncupinar crossing with Syria remains closed, forcing Syrians to seek shelter in Atama camp on the Syrian side of the border, already overcrowded with 70,000 people.
In November the EU and Turkey reached a $3.2 billion deal to support refugees in Turkey, if Turkey in return halted the flow of refugees to Europe.
Turkey is already home to about 2.5 million refugees, and over one million asylum-seekers reached Europe in 2015.