Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country has opened the borders between his country and the European continent in front of those who wish to migrate to European countries because of the failure of European countries to fulfill their obligations.
Erdogan explained that 18 thousand immigrants crossed to the European continent by Saturday morning, adding that the numbers will increase successively to reach between 25 and 30 thousand immigrants.
Turkish television showed migrants heading on foot to the border with Greece, and scenes from the Turkish city of Edirne showed refugees on rudimentary inflatable boats bound for the island of Lesbos in Greece.
The Greek government said it had prevented thousands of migrants from entering its territory illegally from Turkey.
The police resorted to using tear gas to prevent migrants from crossing across the border.
Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday: “We will not close the border gates during the coming period, and we will leave them legitimate, and the reason is that the European Union did not fulfill its pledges and it is not our duty to bear this large number of refugees and feed them.”
It is noteworthy that the border between Syria and Turkey is completely closed to Syrian refugees who have had to flee their homes during the past few weeks due to the intense fighting between government forces and the Russian-backed opposition.
The Turkish decision came after a bloody attack on Turkish forces by the Syrian government forces in northern Syria.
Greece and Bulgaria have sent additional forces to their common border with Turkey to prevent refugees from crossing them.
The conflict in Syria and Turkey’s limited options in Idlib
Is the honeymoon between Erdogan and Putin ended?
At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike in Idlib, the last enclave in which a large part of the armed opposition controls.
Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have been trying to recover Idlib from jihadist groups and opposition fighters backed by Turkey.
Why does Turkey allow migrants to leave?
Turkey hosts about 4 million Syrian refugees and it also hosts immigrants from other countries such as Afghanistan, but previously prevented them from leaving for Europe under a deal with the European Union linked to aid.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “large numbers” of migrants gathered at the border, but “illegal entry to Greece will not be permitted.” He said security had been tightened on the land and sea borders.
The problem of Europe and the world
Fakhruddin Alton, head of the Communication Department of the Turkish Presidency, said that migrants are now also a problem for Europe and the world. He said that Turkey had no choice but to facilitate its procedures at the border because it had not received sufficient support in hosting the Syrian refugees.
There was confusion over Ankaras refugee policy, after the European Union foreign policy official said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoغلlu assured him that Turkey would remain committed to curbing the flow of migrants to the European Union.
Alton said earlier that Turkey did not have the capacity to allow entry to the approximately one million Syrians fleeing the fighting in Idlib. He called on the international community to protect civilians there from “genocide” by imposing a no-fly zone.
At least 465 civilians, including 145 children, have been killed in Idlib since December, the vast majority of whom are victims of attacks by the Syrian government and its allies, according to the United Nations. Children also die from the cold.
What happened since the attack on the Turkish forces?
The Turkish and Russian Presidents held a phone conversation on Friday. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for additional measures to restore the situation to normal, with the possibility of a summit in the near future, the Kremlin said.
Russia also said that talks had taken place about the situation in Idlib between senior American and Russian military officials.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised “strong political and practical support” for Turkey while the United States said it was behind Turkey.
Russia said that the Turkish forces that were attacked were operating alongside jihadi fighters. It denied the participation of its warplanes in the raid on Turkish forces near the town of Beilun in Idlib Governorate.
Turkey said it had struck two hundred locations for the Syrian government in retaliation, neutralizing some 300 soldiers.
For his part, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 20 Syrian soldiers were killed.
Russia said that it was in constant contact with Turkey to ensure that Turkish forces were not targeted in Idlib, and that it had not been informed that Turkish forces were deployed in Beilun.
But Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar insisted that the Russians had been informed of the locations of the Turkish forces, and said that there were no armed groups near the soldiers who were targeted.
He also said that ambulances were targeted in this attack.