October 11, 2019
EU governments threatened sanctions against Turkey on Friday over its offensive in Syria, angrily rejecting President Tayyip Erdogan’s warning that he would “open the gates” and send 3.6 million refugees to Europe if they did not back him.
Turkey has stepped up its air and artillery strikes on Kurdish militia in northeast Syria, escalating an offensive that has drawn warnings of a humanitarian disaster and also raised the prospect of new U.S. sanctions on Ankara.
The European Union, which Turkey still formally aspires to join despite its growing criticism of Ankara’s human rights record, had already condemned the Turkish offensive but has been infuriated by Erdogan’s threats to send refugees to Europe.
“We will never accept that refugees are weaponized and used to blackmail us,” European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs EU summits, said on Twitter. “President Erdogan’s threats … are totally out of place.”