Erdoğan's threat to send refugees to Europe is hollow - Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent warning that he could open the gates for migrants to reach Europe is an empty threat, Bloomberg said on Friday.

Erdoğan on Thursday said Turkey would open its borders and send 3.6 million Syrians to Europe if it labelled Turkey’s military offensive into northeast Syria as an occupation.

Turkey says its military assault against Kurdish forces in northern Syria aims both to ensure its national security and the safe return of Syrian refugees in Turkey. 

Ankara could resettle refugees in areas it aims to capture in its ongoing military operation, but could not put them on ships and send them to Greece, Bloomberg said.

"Such open action on the part of his government would likely put an end, at least temporarily, to Turkey’s customs union with the EU, exacerbating its economic problems – and Europe likely would push back the ships, anyway."

The Turkish president's threat essentially means not preventing human traffickers carrying refugees from setting off from Turkey's Mediterranean coast toward Greece, Bloomberg said, adding that Ankara had not been doing much to stop those crossings in recent months anyway.

According to an EU report, the number of migrants reaching Europe from Turkish soil in the first 9 months of 2019 has reached 46,546, with a 23 percent increase compared to the same period last year.