Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan threatened the European Union on Thursday afternoon that he could allow more than 3.6 million refugees and migrants to leave the country and land on European shores.
Speaking at a rally for his party on Thursday, the Turkish President accused the EU of being dishonest in its dealings with his country.
President Erdogan complained that the EU has left Turkey waiting to join the Union since 1963, referring to the seemingly never-ending negotiations for a potential Turkish accession to the EU — which is extraordinarily unlikely considering the current relationship between Brussels and Ankara.
”To all those who speak against our actions in northern Syria, I have to say this: EU, get a grip! Our operation is not an act of occupation. Watch out, we will open our gates and we will send 3.6 million refugees to your side!” President Erdogan told his supporters, using his usual inflammatory style of speech.
Of course, this is not the first time that Erdogan has threatened Europe that he might cease the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal by allowing millions of refugees and migrants to flow into Greece and other EU member states.
However, this is the first time that the Turkish leader has correlated his controversial military operation against the Kurds in northern Syria with Europe’s position on the issue.
Erdogan knows that his decision is massively unpopular across all the nations of the West, since the Kurds were those who, along with American and European forces, had eliminated the threat of ISIS.
For this reason, the Turkish President showed his willingness to escalate Ankara’s confrontation with Europe, in case the latter attempts to hinder his plans to fight against the Kurds.