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Erdogan Threatens To ‘Open the Doors’ to Europe for Refugees if Criticisms Continue

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to media after Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan in Istanbul, Turkey, June 4, 2019. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a warning to the European Union during a speech to his party on Thursday, threatening to flood the continent with millions of refugees in response to international criticism of Turkey’s recent military offensive in northern Syria.

“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan said in the speech. The public opinion over Erdogan’s actions has largely been negative.

On Thursday, France’s foreign ministry requested the Turkish ambassador, Ismail Hakki Musa, speak in Paris about the recent attacks, according to sources. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio also called for an immediate end to the fighting.

“As a government we think that the Turkish offensive initiative is unacceptable. We condemn it … because military action in the past has always led to more terrorism,” he said. “We call for an immediate end to this offensive which is absolutely not acceptable given that the use of force continues to endanger the life of the Syrian people, who have already experienced tragedy in recent years.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement Thursday joining his European counterparts in calling for Turkey to end its attacks against the Kurds. “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” he said.

Iran, a close ally of the Syrian government, called for the Turks to halt their advance, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would push for the necessity of dialogue between Turkey and Syria.”

During the Thursday rally, an inflammatory Erdogan defended his government’s decision-making and accused other countries of being dishonest in their criticisms.

“They are not honest, they just make up words,” he said. “We, however, create action and that is our difference.”

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