President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday warned Turkey would be forced to open the doors to Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe if Ankara did not get more international support.
Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees and recently called for a “safe zone” in the war-torn country’s northeast, to which refugees could return.
If the safe zone does not happen, “we will be forced to open the doors. You either give support, or if you won’t, sorry, but we can only put up with so much,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan claimed Turkey had spent $40 billion on refugees and criticised the West, especially the European Union, for failing to live up to its promises.
Under a 2016 agreement, the EU promised Ankara six billion euros ($6.6 billion) in exchange for stronger controls on refugees leaving its territory for Europe, but Erdogan said only three billion euros had so far arrived.
“We may be forced to do this (open the gates) to get this (international support),” he said.
Turkey fears a fresh influx of refugees as the Syrian government advances into the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.
It also hosts hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans fleeing conflict in their countries.
In a bid to pressure the United States, which is to jointly patrol the safe zone, Erdogan said Turkey was “determined to set it up by the last week of September.”