Source: The Guardian Photo: Anadolu Agency
Ankara, September 05, 2019 – The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is threatening to "open the gates" to allow Syrian refugees to leave Turkey for western countries unless a controversial "safe zone" inside Syria is established soon.
Erdoğan's comments come amid growing tension with Washington over delays in establishing the safe zone – first proposed by Donald Trump – not least over the fate of a key US-allied Kurdish militia, the YPG, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation.
Ankara has been threatening to move its troops unilaterally into the safe zone unless progress is made.
With Turkey hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, Erdoğan's threat raised the spectre of a surge of people into Europe that could dwarf even the recent migration crisis at its peak.
The stark warning was delivered in remarks to officials of his ruling party, as humanitarian organisations warned that conditions in the besieged Syrian rebel enclave of Idlib were "Hobbesian" and approaching the "stone age".
"We will be forced to open the gates. We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone," said the Turkish president.
Erdoğan's threat immediately sent tremors through Greece where authorities have reported a huge surge in recent numbers arriving on Aegean isles facing the Turkish coast.
More than 12,000 would-be asylum seekers landed in Greece in July and August.
Last week some 650 arrived in a single day on Lesbos, with the country's civil protection minister telling the Guardian that smugglers had become increasingly brazen, deploying "much better and faster" boats to make the crossing from Turkey.
This post was originally published on Home - Centar za zaštitu i pomoć tražiocima azila / Asylum Protection Center.