image Photo: Reuters

Erdogan: If EU condemns Turkey, refugees will flood Europe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan levelled a warning at the European Union against condemnations of his country’s military in Northeast Syria. In an address to his ruling AK party, Erdogan accused Brussels of blatant hypocrisy. “Hey European Union, pull yourself together,” said the President, adding “I say it again. If you try to label this operation as an invasion – it’s very simple.” He then threatened “we will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” in reference to Syrians who fled previous waves of violence in their home nation currently residing in western Turkey.

The Turkish leader’s statements come in the wake of rising accusations from European leaders of disproportionate force being wielded by Turkey. Erdogan has also been subject to repeated allegations of actively aspiring to revive the Ottoman Empire through undemocratic methods. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Turkey and “other actors” to exercise restraint, and to stop operations that are already under way. After stating that “This military action is not leading to good results” that must be brought to the “attention of our Turkish friends,” Juncker pointedly said that “if the Turkish plan involves the creation of a so-called safe zone, don’t expect the European Union to pay for any of it.” He then stressed that “A sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict will only be reached through a genuine political transition.”

While the majority of EU member states oppose Turkey’s military operation, others have rejected the manner of conduct with Ankara. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijaarto told reporters in Budapest that his position “is that we need cooperate with Turkey.” Szijaarto said that in his view, “We need a constructive dialogue with Turkey and if we have a problem, we have to speak about that openly,” and voiced uncertainty “that the best way to address these very serious issues is exchanging messages through the public.” He then stressed the need to secure “a constructive dialogue with Turkey” to “avoid a situation when an additional migratory flow arrives to Europe.” Hungary’s top diplomat then said that he “always” tells “his colleagues” to avoid categorizing Turkey as “a guarantor for European safety” with regard to having absorbed “almost 4 million migrants and refugees,” while “some European countries are making a competition who can bash the Turkish president more.”