At a moment Erdogan has his hands dirty in Syria and is preparing to get more militarily involved in Libya, Turkey's president has yet again threatened Europe with a refugee horde so large no country will be able to handle it. He's now specifically threatened Greece as being among the first to bear the brunt of the first waves of refugees unleashed by Turkey.
"Turkey cannot handle a fresh wave of migrants from Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, warning that European countries will feel the impact of such an influx if violence in Syria’s northwest is not stopped," Reuters reports
Common estimates now put the number of Syrian refugees hosted on Turkish soil at 3.7 million, with another 3 million inside war-torn Idlib province, which means the refugee crisis is set to explode dramatically higher in terms of numbers — a likely scenario given Damascus has vowed to return "every inch" of Idlib and all Syrian territory to its control.
Thus far thousands have fled into neighboring Turkey, but there's been on the ground reports suggesting HTS militants are blocking the bulk of refugees from leaving, perhaps using them as 'human shields' amid the Russian-Syrian onslaught.
During a public speech in Istanbul on Sunday night, Erdogan claimed over 80,000 people were currently fleeing Idlib for the safety of Turkey, and repeated his urgent appeal for Europe to give additional support.
“If the violence toward the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase even more. In that case, Turkey will not carry such a migrant burden on its own,” Erdogan said.
And he named Greece while invoking the peak of the migrant crisis in 2015, promising a "repeat" if nothing is done:
“The negative impact of the pressure we will be subjected to will be something that all European nations, especially Greece, will also feel,” he said, adding that a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis would become inevitable.
“We call on European countries to use their energy to stop the massacre in Idlib, rather than trying to corner Turkey for the legitimate steps it took in Syria,” Erdogan said, referencing the Turkish army's own ongoing 'Operation Peace Spring' against US-backed Syrian Kurds.
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