Erdoğan: EU Woke up Late to Turkey’s Role On Migrants We Have Spent $8 Billion
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday the European Union had woken up too late to Turkey’s importance in stemming the flow of refugees from Syria and accused it of insincerity in talks on Turkish membership despite recent overtures.
EU leaders said overnight they had agreed with Erdoğan a migration “action plan”, offering a possible 3 billion euro ($3.4 billion) in aid to Turkey to help halt the migrant flow to Europe.
Erdoğan said his NATO nation’s proximity to Syria and its key role in handling the refugee crisis had strengthened its case for EU membership.
“The West and Europe’s security and stability is contingent on our security and stability. They have accepted this now. In the talks I held in Brussels last week they accepted all this. It can’t happen without Turkey,” Erdoğan told a conference in Istanbul.
“So if it can’t happen without Turkey, why don’t you take Turkey into the EU? The problem is clear but they are not open. They are not clear. They say ‘We made a mistake on NATO, let’s not make the same mistake on the EU’. That is the problem,” he said.
“We have spent $8 billion until now. How much support did the world give us? $417 million,” said Erdoğan.
Erdoğan said Europe had woken up to the scale of Syria’s refugee crisis only when pictures of the tiny body of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, whose family was trying to reach Europe, washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum last month.
“When that toddler Aylan washed up on the Bodrum shores, they started using that photo on the front of their magazines and started questioning themselves,” Erdoğan said.
“Ok, but how long have we been shouting and calling? In Turkey now there are 2.2 million Syrians alone. There are 300,000 Iraqis,” he said.