Europe re­spon­si­ble for refugees ‘drown­ing in the sea’: Er­do­gan

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ac­cused Europe on Fri­day of not do­ing enough to help refugees flee­ing con­flict in Syria and Iraq, sug­gest­ing it was re­spon­si­ble for peo­ple “drown­ing in the sea.”

Tur­key, which has taken in some 1.8 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees since the con­flict started in 2011, has re­peat­edly said that it has been left to shoul­der a dis­pro­por­tion­ate bur­den as Western states stand by.

Er­do­gan has cham­pi­oned an “open-door” pol­icy to­ward Syr­ian refugees, de­spite their in­creas­ing pres­ence in ma­jor Turk­ish cities stok­ing ten­sions with lo­cals.

The pres­i­dent com­plained again Fri­day that Tur­key had “wel­comed” two mil­lion refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq while Europe had strug­gled to ac­cept a tenth of that num­ber.

“This is the type of coun­try that we are,” Er­do­gan, through a trans- la­tor, told an au­di­ence at a mil­i­tary think tank in Jakarta at the start of a two-day visit to In­done­sia.

“But when you look at the whole of Europe, what you find is that they have not been able to welcome a mere 200,000 refugees in their coun­tries.

“What’s more, when there are those who tried to cross the Mediter­ranean Sea to get into Europe, the at­ti­tude they have or the ground­work they lay is such that these peo­ple end up drown­ing in the sea,” he added.

The out­spo­ken pres­i­dent has not been alone in crit­i­ciz­ing the West on refugees, with the U.N.’s refugee chief urg­ing coun­tries to fol­low Tur­key’s lead and open up their borders.

Er­do­gan said this week the for­ma­tion of a safe zone in­side wartorn Syria, free from the Is­lamic State group, would help 1.7 mil­lion refugees re­turn home.

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