Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Saturday blamed European states for deserting Turkey on the issue of irregular migrants and threatened them with opening the country’s border against the migration wave, Gazete Duvar online news portal reported on Sunday.
Soylu, delivering a speech in the western province of Izmir, slammed the European Parliament which criticized Turkey in terms of democracy.
“You criticize Turkey from your seats in the European Parliament. You act in a leftist behaviour from 300 years back, but when 150 migrants reach [Europe] you will be alarmed,” Soylu argued.
The minister went on to say European governments cannot withstand six months against the biggest migration wave if Turkey opens its gates.
“It is not enough to pat Turkey’s back. If Turkey does not press on with the issue [of irregular migrants], no government in Europe can’t even tolerate six months. Let us try if they wish,” said Soylu.
The minister called on Europe not to try Turkey’s patience and called on the continent’s states to back the country in its struggles on the migration matter.
“We have been waging a struggle as we have faced the biggest migration wave in the events of history,” said the minister.
Soylu added Turkey would take the irregular migration issue to a new level. He claimed it was obvious European countries left Turkey in a lurch on the migrant issue.
Soylu said Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) would do whatever necessary to deal with the irregular immigration problem.
“We will impose punishments never been seen before to those who want to turn Turkey into a center for irregular migrants. It doesn’t matter if they are Turks or foreigners, they will eventually see our reaction. We are entering a new phase in which we will take a hard line with migrant smugglers and organizers,” the minister vowed.
Turkey is one of the busiest transit countries for many migrants fleeing war, persecution, political crackdowns and poverty while trying to reach Europe.
In recent years, more than a million migrants and refugees passed through the country on their way to the European Union (EU) states.
Trying to reduce the number of migrants crossing Turkey, the EU concluded a deal with Turkey on March 18, 2016, which saw a sharp decrease in the number of crossing migrants.
Turkey reached the deal in exchange for €3 billion from the EU aid and a promise to ease visa restrictions for Turks and began to tighten controls on migrants trying to reach Europe.