Ankara angry over refugee crisis

As the European Union is struggling to deal with a chaotic flood of migrants, Turkey, which is home to more refugees than any other country in the world, is blaming EU leaders for the chaos. Turkey says European nations ignored repeated warnings.

With much of the world shocked by the image of a drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach — the latest victim among refugees seeking to enter the EU — Turkish President Recep Erdogan Thursday accused European countries of turning the Mediterranean Sea into a grave.

According to Ahmet Icduygu, an expert on migration for Istanbul’s Koc University, there is deep resentment in Ankara that the EU ignored its warnings and calls for help over the mounting refugee crisis.

“Why the European countries are having less concern about the refugee Syrian problem, unfortunately it’s the case almost around the world, everyone tries to shift the responsibility to other side,” he explained. “We should not forget that European countries observing those migrants in terms of their economies, also there is an economic crisis in Europe.”

Ankara is hosting over two million Iraqi and Syrian refugees at a cost of over $6 billion. President Erdogan has repeatedly criticized Brussels for failing to share fairly the burden of refugees or the cost; a point he reportedly made during a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, Thursday.

Ankara’s share of blame

But political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Suleyman Sah University says some of the blame lies with Ankara.

“International organizations, the big NGOs they were all ready to come and help. But Turkey said, no, no, I can do it myself, now they are stuck,” said Aktar.

With the refugee crisis now reaching EU countries, there is hope in Ankara that Brussels is finally addressing the growing crisis, says political columnist Semih Idiz of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper and Al Monitor website.

“It’s already hard pressed to meet the requirements of these refugees; they are spread across the country, its also causing social problems within Turkey between communities,” said Idiz.

With the Syrian conflict showing no signs of ending soon, observers say Ankara will be hoping that finally the international community will start to share fairly the burden of the refugee crisis.


(Archive photo: Thousands of people from Syria cross the Peshkhabour border crossing into Iraq’s Dohuk Governorate. Photo: UNHCR/G. Gubaeva)