A warning issued by Turkey about opening the route to Europe for migrants was “neither a threat nor a bluff,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Friday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“The statement of our president was neither a threat nor a bluff. This is a reality. There is a crisis in Syria. Turkey has totally opened its doors,” Oktay told reporters on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, Italy.
His remarks came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Turkey could “open its doors” to let migrants cross into Europe if Ankara does not receive the support it expects for a plan to resettle Syrian refugees in a safe zone in north Syria.
Oktay said the thinking that Turkey can withstand a new migrant flow was “wrong.”
“Turkey is not any other country’s guardian, nor their migrant center. It is not the country that will pay the bill for the crises that [the other countries] create,” he added.
Turkey currently hosts more than 4 million refugees, including 3.6 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. Erdoğan previously said Ankara has spent over $37 billion for the Syrians alone.
“Yes, we did our duty for the refugees, we are still doing it and we will continue to do so,” he added.
Oktay said if the crisis in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province continues, and if a new migration crisis starts, then Europe has “no chance” to escape from this reality.