EU woke up late to Turkey’s role on migrants: Erdoğan

EU woke up late to Turkey’s role on migrants: Erdoğan

EU woke up late to Turkey’s role on migrants: Erdoğan

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed on Oct. 16 that the European Union had “woken up too late” to Turkey’s importance in stemming the flow of refugees from Syria and accused it of “insincerity” in talks on Turkish membership. 

Erdoğan said NATO member Turkey’s proximity to Syria and its key role in handling the refugee crisis had strengthened its case for EU membership. 

“The West and Europe’s security and stability is contingent on our security and stability. They have accepted this now. In the talks I held in Brussels last week they accepted all this. It can’t happen without Turkey,” he said at a meeting of the W20, an offshoot of the G20, which Turkey is chairing this year, aimed at boosting the role of women in the global economy.

“So if it can’t happen without Turkey, why don’t you take Turkey into the EU? The problem is clear but they are not open. They are not clear. They say ‘We made a mistake on NATO, let’s not make the same mistake on the EU.’ That is the problem,” Erdoğan added. 

“We have spent $8 billion [on refugees] until now. How much support did the world give us? $417 million,” he stated.

Erdoğan said Europe had woken up to the scale of Syria’s refugee crisis only when pictures of the tiny body of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, whose family was trying to reach Europe, washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum last month. 

“When the toddler Aylan washed up on the shore of Bodrum, they started using that photo on the front of their magazines and started questioning themselves,” Erdogan said. 

“OK, but how long have we been shouting and calling? In Turkey now there are 2.2 million Syrians and 300,000 Iraqis,” he added. 

Erdoğan also questioned whether Brussels had really started treating Ankara’s long-standing membership application seriously.

“They announce that they’ll take in 30,000 to 40,000 refugees and then they are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. We are hosting 2.5 million refugees but nobody cares,” he said.

“The Nobel is politically motivated. You know how Nobel prizes are awarded. They are awarded upon [someone’s] order. It doesn’t matter whether one deserves it or not,” Erdoğan said, speaking little over a week after Turkish citizen Aziz Sancar won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been tipped to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership on the refugee crisis in Europe.

The EU won the prize back in 2012 for its commitment to “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.”