Seeking further funding Erdogan threatens to inundate Europe with migrants
Turkey plans to resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria and may reopen the route for migrants into Europe if it does not receive adequate international support for the plan, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, controls parts of north Syria where it says 350,000 Syrians have already returned. It is setting up a "safe zone" with the United States in the northeast where Erdogan said many more could be moved.
"Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450 km border," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
The comments come as Turkey mounts pressure on Washington for further concessions on the depth and oversight of the planned safe zone in the northeast, and as it comes under increasing pressure in Syria's northwest Idlib region where a Russian-backed government offensive has pressed north.
Only a small minority of Syrians in Turkey are from the northern strip roughly proposed for re-settlement, according to Turkish government data. "We are saying we should form such a safe zone that we, as Turkey, can build towns here in lieu of the tent cities here. Let's carry them to the safe zones there," Erdogan said.
"Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30 km (20 miles) depth in northern Syria. This way, we can provide them with humanitarian living conditions."
"This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates," Erdogan said. "Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union.
EU-Turkey Statement of 2016