ISTANBUL - As the European Union struggles to deal with a flood of migrants, Turkey, 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 [are] observing those migrants in terms of their economies. Also, there is an economic crisis in Europe."
Ankara is hosting over 2 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees at a cost of over $6 billion. Erdogan has repeatedly criticized Brussels for failing to share fairly the cost or burden of caring for refugees, a point he reportedly made during a telephone conversation Thursday with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande.
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 growing refugee crisis now reaching EU countries, there is hope in Ankara that Brussels finally will act, 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," Idiz said. "It's also causing social problems within Turkey between communities."