Erdogan threatens Europe with ‘millions’ of migrants
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Monday that "millions" of migrants will soon head for Europe, drawing a sharp rebuke from EU leaders over his efforts to pressure them into greater assistance with the Syrian conflict.
Since Turkey "opened its doors" on Friday for refugees and migrants to leave for the European Union, thousands have massed at the Greek border, triggering fears of another influx like that which poisoned European politics in 2015.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Turkey's move as "unacceptable", while EU migration commissioner Margaritis Schinas said "no one can blackmail or intimidate the EU".
But Turkey, which already hosts some four million refugees, is trying to hold off another mass influx from Syria where regime forces, backed by Russian air power, are advancing into the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.
Erdogan said he hoped for a ceasefire in Syria when he meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin later this week.
But he warned Europe that it would share the migrant pressure.
"After we opened the doors, there were multiple calls saying 'close the doors'. I told them 'it's done. It's finished. The doors are now open. Now, you will have to take your share of the burden'," he said.
Erdogan claimed the numbers of migrants at the Greek border, who include Afghans, Syrian and Iraqis, were far higher than figures provided by officials and reporters at the scene. He said there were already hit "hundreds of thousands" there. - AFP