EU should support Turkey if it wants solution to refugee issue: Erdoğan
“If European countries want to resolve the issue, they must support Turkey’s efforts for political and humanitarian solutions in Syria,” Erdoğan said on March 4 at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.
“All European countries closing their borders to refugees today, trying to push them back by hitting them and sinking their boats, in fact even shooting at them, are trampling over the universal declaration of human rights,” Erdoğan said.
He also called on the European countries, “especially Greece,” to act in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He criticized Greece’s response, saying: “The Greeks - who are resorting to any means to stop refugees coming into their country, even drowning them or killing them with live ammunition - shouldn’t forget they might need this same mercy one day.”
He also showed a photo displaying the help extended to the Greek people who fled Nazi attacks and took refuge in Syria during World War II.
“One of the Greek boys or girls in this photo is maybe the grandfather or grandmother of [Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos] Mitsotakis,” Erdoğan said.
Noting that the border gates were opened for the refugees seeking to cross into Europe on the night when 36 Turkish soldiers died in Syria’s Idlib province, Erdoğan underlined that Turkey’s decision to open the gates is in accord with the international law.
This refugee influx will go on until a new constitution is drafted based on Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity and free elections are held whereby a new administration takes office, he stated.
Idlib is the Turkish people’s “homeland,” Erdoğan said in response to opposition’s criticisms for launching an offensive against the regime, in a reference to historical lands of the Ottoman Empire.
“With our recent operations, I believe that we once again proved to everyone that we are not a country that does not know how to fight but a country that does not want to fight,” he stated.
The YPG has started to carry out attacks on the Turkish security forces in other regions inside Syria while the clashes that are continuing in Idlib indicate the great game going on in the background, Erdoğan said.
“This situation evidently shows that terrorists will directly target the lands of our country if we withdraw from Idlib or from other areas which we have rendered safe in Syria. What else do we have to experience so as to see that we will have to wage, by paying a much heavier price, in our own lands the fight which we today shy away from in Syria.”
Last week, Turkish officials announced that they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe.
Since then, thousands of irregular migrants have flocked to Edirne to make their way into Europe.
The decision came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by the regime forces in Idlib on Feb. 27.
Turkey, which already hosts some 3.7 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world, says it cannot take another refugee wave.
The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
Erdoğan will go to Moscow for talks on March 5 with Russian President Vladimir Putin in what he will hope leads to a lasting ceasefire and the establishment of a “safe zone.”