Turkey’s Erdogan slams EU response to refugee crisis

Turkish president dismisses European offer of aid in response for keeping refugees from Syria inside his country.

Belgium''s King Philippe and Turkey''s President Erdogan review an honour guard during a welcome ceremony outside the Royal Palace in Brussels
Erdogan made the comments during a state visit to Belgium [Reuters]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has mocked EU overtures for help with its refugee crisis during a state visit to Belgium. 

The business of people-smuggling in Turkey

Erdogan boasted of his country’s record in taking in 2 million refugees from neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and contrasted it with the numbers passing through the bloc in comments made during a televised meeting with Belgian business leaders.

“While we host 2.2 million refugees, Europe as a whole houses less than 250,000 refugees in total,” Erdogan said.

He had told supporters in France the day before: “What do they say to us? … ‘Oh, my, don’t open your doors, don’t let them reach us,'” according to the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper.

European Union officials are hoping to convince Erdogan to shelter more Syrian refugees in return for aid.

Deadly journey

Tens of thousands of people are making the journey from Turkey to islands belonging to EU-member Greece, the first stage of a perilous journey towards northern and western European states.

The physical distances involved are not great, but the refugees are often loaded by traffickers onto flimsy and overcrowded rafts that frequently succumb to waves.

Hundreds have drowned when their boats were hit by waves, including 17 Syrian refugees who died trapped inside the cabin of their wooden boat in September.

The picture of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, whose body was found washed up on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to reach Greece, pressured European leaders to step up their response to the refugee crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters