Who shoulders the blame for the current refugee crisis in Europe? Western governments are the primary culprits, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have said, according to reports.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Erodgan said “the whole Western world is to be blamed.” He said European Union states bordering the Mediterranean were not interested in taking in refugees. Turkey has taken in more than a million refugees from the war in Syria, according to the United Nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Western governments were to blame and that he expected the crisis based on Western government’s foreign policy decisions in the Middle East, according to the Financial Times.
“We in Russia and your humble servant said several years ago that there would be massive problems if our so-called western partners conduct what I have always called the ‘wrong’ foreign policy, especially in regions of the Muslim World, the Middle East and north Africa, which they continue practically to this day,” said Putin, speaking to Russian media in Vladivostok. He directly criticized the U.S. saying its policy in the region was to blame.
Putin said the solution to the ongoing crisis was to have the international community work together to fight terrorism. Russia has continued to support Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad's regime as Western governments, including the U.S., have backed forces fighting against Assad's government. Putin said Syrians were fleeing because of the Islamic State, not because of Assad’s government.
EU leaders were scheduled to meet Friday and Monday to discuss possible solutions to the crisis as countries begin to debate switching their policies and pressure mounts from citizens for states to act and take in refugees. Germany has called for a quota system to evenly distribute refugees among states.
"Just like I'm in an office of responsibility, these people are also in an office of responsibility. So what they need to do is to conduct a joint operation and give these people an opportunity to save themselves,” said Erdogan referring to western leaders.
While the 28-member EU deals with a large influx of refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, Russia has taken in refugees from another conflict this year: The war in Ukraine. As of August, the UN’s refugee agency reported that more than 380,000 Ukrainians were seeking asylum in Russia. Russia continues to deny playing any direct role in the conflict in Ukraine.