Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated a threat to banish the 2.5 million Syrian migrants it is hosting within its borders, saying he could bus them to the borders of the European Union.
In a speech to a business forum in Ankara Thursday, Erdogan confirmed comments that were leaked earlier in the week, in which he told EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he would expel the refugees if Turkey is not given support for its efforts.
The comments, made last November, were leaked by a Greek website and published by some opposition newspapers.
Erdogan defended his comments on Thursday, saying he was defending the rights of Turkey and the refugees.
He also criticized the United Nations for urging Turkey to open its doors to Syrian refugees, instead of taking action in Syria.
Erdogan urged the U.N. to call on other member states to help Turkey with its overload of people seeking shelter.
Turkey shares a southeastern border with Syria, and western borders with Greece and Bulgaria — so it serves as a bridge from the war-torn Middle East to the more peaceful and relatively more prosperous nations of Europe.