European countries are “indebted” to Turkey for the peace they are experiencing, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed.
Erdogan, speaking at an event hosted by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) on Friday, the peace being experienced European countries was due to Turkey harboring four million Syrian refugees, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Friday.
“If [people in] European countries still live in peace, it is due to Turkey’s hosting four million refugees in its own land. Europe is indebted to us for that,” he was quoted as saying.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey has been the main route for refugees to cross into Europe.
Erdogan accused European countries of not supporting Turkey’s attempts to make Syria a safe country again.
“We cannot find any support for our attempts to make Syrian land safe again. They [European countries] still have a longing for the Turkish spring. However, every country that they entered turned into the dead of winter. The European cities are on fire. You’ll burn even more,” Erdogan warned, claiming that the European countries’ actions had paved the way for terror in Europe.
Erdogan referred to the Arab Spring, a movement that saw a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in late 2010, in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living.
Accusing “foreign powers” of attacking Turkey, he said: “They could attack our unity, economy, borders by setting traps all they want. That kind of operations would only make us more determined to reach our goals and more powerful in our struggle.”
“We won’t let anyone threaten us in Syria. Any economic and political moves against the independence of our country are doomed to fail,” Erdogan added.
“Those who try to provoke the social fault lines in Turkey should first look at the unstable ground they are sitting on” he warned, claiming that those who turned Syria into a “quagmire” are trying to surround Turkey’s borders with a corridor of terror.
Referring to an argument leveled by some against Turkey’s EU membership, he said: “They say we are too big [crowded] to be an EU member. Does this mean that we should decrease in number just because they [EU] want us to?”
“I’m not saying ‘you should have at least three kids’ for nothing. We will get even bigger. You should know that we will grow stronger as we get bigger,” Erdogan said, repeating his previous remarks aimed at encouraging women to help boost Turkey’s almost 80 million population.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 360,000 people were killed in Syria’s civil war since 2011.