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December 24, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8433

Turkish President Erdoğan Again Threatens To Push Refugees Into Europe: 'All European Countries – Above All, Greece – Will Feel' The Pressure Turkey Feels

December 24, 2019
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8433

On December 22, 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke about the movement of Syrians toward the Turkey-Syria border amid an ongoing offensive in Idlib by Syrian government forces in a speech he gave at the İlim Yayma Ödül Töreni ("Spreading Knowledge Award Ceremony") at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul [1] President Erdoğan said: "Eighty thousand of our brothers and sisters from Idlib have started to migrate toward our borders. If the savagery toward the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase. In such a situation Turkey will not carry this burden of migration by itself. All European countries, above all, Greece, will feel the negative reflections of the pressure to which we will be exposed. In such a situation, a repeat of what happened before the March 18 concord will be unavoidable." The March 18, 2016 agreement between Turkey and the EU laid out parameters for stopping the flow of migrants from Turkey into Europe via the islands of Greek and other routes.[2]


President Erdoğan spoke at the Spreading Knowledge Award Ceremony at Dolmabahçe Palace (source: Tccb.gov.tr).

This is not the first time President Erdoğan has threatened to send refugees into Europe. In a September 5, 2019 speech, he said: "We have not received from the world – least of all from the EU – the necessary support on the matter of the refugees that we have hosted, and to get [that support] we may be forced to [open the border]" (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8281 Turkish President Erdoğan Threatens To Let Refugees Cross Into Europe Unless International Community Supports Turkey's Plans For Northern Syria, September 18, 2019). In an October 10, 2019 speech, after the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria began on October 9, Erdoğan said: "Oh, European Union, come to your senses. Look, I am saying it again. If you try to call our current operation an occupation, our job will be easy. We will open the gates and send you 3.6 million refugees" (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8317 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Threatens To Open Border To Europe, Send 3.6 Million Refugees If EU Considers Turkish Activity In Northern Syria To Be An Occupation, October 16, 2019).

Following are translated excerpts from President Erdoğan's December 22 speech:

"It Is No Longer Possible For Rich Western Countries To Flee From The Refugee Problem"

"The countries that attended the [Global Refugee] Forum[3] made a commitment to [give] 7.5 billion dollars in the name of sharing the burden of the refugees in the world. This number, in a time in which two trillion dollars are set aside for arms and one trillion dollars is spent on luxury consumption, is like a camel's ear [i.e., it is small by comparison]. The amount that Europe has assigned to keeping refugees outside of its borders is many times higher than the amount set aside in the scope of the forum. It is very clear that the refugees' problems will not be solved with symbolic quantities.

"As a country that has suffered much as a result of promises that were not kept, we look at actions more than promises. We are going to try our hardest to be the followers of these decisions that have been made and to see that they are applied. We are going to continue to say that it is no longer possible for rich Western countries to flee from the refugee problem... Some people are just talking. The numbers released by the OECD [Organization For Economic Co-operation and Development] are clear. We are number one..."

"In Such A Situation Turkey Will Not Carry This Burden Of Migration By Itself – All European Countries, Above All, Greece, Will Feel The Negative Reflections Of The Pressure To Which We Will Be Exposed"

"The most recent massacres in Idlib, where four million people live, have once again caused a serious movement in this area. Eighty thousand of our brothers and sisters from Idlib have started to migrate toward our borders. If the savagery toward the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase. In such a situation Turkey will not carry this burden of migration by itself. All European countries, above all, Greece, will feel the negative reflections of the pressure to which we will be exposed. In such a situation, a repeat of what happened before the March 18 concord will be unavoidable. We, with Russia, are making every effort and will continue to make every effort [to ensure that] the attacks stop. Tomorrow we are sending a committee to Moscow. They will have talks, and we will determine the steps that we will take according to the consequences [of those talks]."

 

[1] Tccb.gov.tr/haberler/410/114059/-gecmisin-ihtisamlarindan-cesaret-alarak-istikbale-odaklanacagiz-, December 22, 2019; Memurlar.net/haber/874842/erdogan-turkiye-goc-yukunu-tek-basina-tasimayacak.html, December 23, 2019.

[2] Consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/03/18/eu-turkey-statement, March 18, 2016.

[3] Unhcr.org/en-us/global-refugee-forum.html, accessed December 23, 2019.

 

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