Turkish FM says warning to EU over refugees ‘not a bluff’

Turkish FM says warning to EU over refugees ‘not a bluff’

Turkey’s warnings that it will allow millions of Syrian refugees to head West if the European Union continues to consider sanctions over military operations in Syria and hydrocarbon drilling off Cyprus is “not a threat and it is not a bluff,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

“We have given a home to Syrian refugees in Turkey for years, and we guarantee Europe's safety in every sense of the word – and yet we get this reaction from Europe?” Cavusoglu said in an interview published on Saturday, responding to threats of sanctions from Brussels and arms embargos from several European states.

“That is 3.6 million Syrians, and more than 4 million total refugees. So far, the Turkish state has spent over $40 billion and the EU has not given us the support we need. And now you do not want to help the people who want to return. The Syrians want to go to Europe anyway. ‘Then please take care of the Syrians in your own country’ – it's our right to say that. It is not a threat and it is not a bluff. This is just the answer to an attitude of the European Union,” he said.

The Turkish foreign minister also brushed off threats of sanctions over Ankara’s Syria operations, saying that “no matter what anyone does, whether it is an arms embargo or something else, it just strengthens us.”

“Our fight is against a terrorist organization, and we will not back down in that fight for any reason. This is a vital matter for us, a matter of national security and survival,” Cavusoglu said.

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