Thursday

7th Jul 2022

Erdogan warns Europe of new migration crisis

  • Bombardments by the Assad regime have led millions of Syrians to flee their home country (Photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)

Turkey cannot handle "another refugee wave" from Syria, the country's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Sunday (22 December).

Talking at an award ceremony in Istanbul, he said more than 80,000 people had fled the Syrian city of Idlib to the Turkish border amid intensified Syrian and Russian bombardments.

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"If the violence towards the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase even more. In that case, Turkey will not carry such a migrant burden on its own," he said.

The province of Idlib has 3m inhabitants and is the last rebel stronghold in the armed Syrian revolt against president Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey hosts 3.7m Syrian refugees, the highest number in the world.

In 2015, 1m refugees passed through Turkey to Europe triggering the so-called migration crisis.

Now, Erdogan has warned of a new refugee crisis in Europe, saying "the negative effects of this pressure on us will be an issue felt by all European countries, especially Greece."

Idlib ceasefire

On 31 August 2019, Russia declared a ceasefire in Idlib, the north-western province of Syria bordering Turkey.

But the ceasefire was violated several times and fighting has intensified since 1 December.

Turkey supports the ceasefire in Idlib in order to stop new waves of refugees.

It also wants to create a safe zone in north-eastern Syria in order to relocate Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey.

According to Erdogan, that is the reason why Turkey invaded north-eastern Syria, until then controlled by Syrian-Kurdish fighters who had helped a US-led alliance against Islamist militant group Isis.

EU foreign ministers earlier condemned the Turkish invasion, angering Erdogan.

In his speech on Sunday, Erdogan came back to this, stating: "We call on European countries to use their energy to stop the massacre in Idlib, rather than trying to corner Turkey for the legitimate steps it took in Syria."

He said a Turkish delegation would go to Moscow to discuss the situation.

Opinion

EU split on migration widens

Failure to reform the EU's asylum system and to manage the crisis will likely push increasingly numbers of voters towards far-right and populist parties.

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will "open the doors" for refugees and migrants to enter Europe unless it does more to help. The EU says it won't help Turkey create a so-called "safe zone" in north-east Syria.

Opinion

'Repatriation' of Syrians in Turkey needs EU action

We interviewed 18 Syrian refugees in Turkey by phone. They all said Turkish authorities had arbitrarily detained them in immigration removal centres and forced them to sign forms they were not allowed to read but believed were voluntary repatriation forms.

Analysis

What does Erdoğan want?

By opening Turkey's border, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to push Europe into supporting him in Ankara's negotiations with Russia's Vladimir Putin for a deal on Syria's Idlib.

Opinion

Europe's migration system is broken: Renew has a plan

The failure of successful integration of migrants and refugees granted stay in Europe puts the entire asylum and migration policy at risk. Member states have to step up their integration policies.

Migrant deal with Turkey 'still stands', EU says

The European Commission says the 2016 deal with Turkey to stem migration flows towards Greece "still stands". The comments follow reports Turkey had opened its borders to allow refugees and migrants into Greece and Bulgaria.

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