Norwegian Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr of the right-wing Progress Party has drawn parallels between the current situation and the 2015 migrant crisis, when about a million asylum seekers entered Europe within a relatively short period of time.
“We do not look gently at Turkey's latest offensive. At the same time, Europe has almost become a hostage to Erdogan's politics. 3.6 million asylum seekers will create total chaos that Europe is not prepared for,” Kallmyr told national broadcaster NRK during his visit to the new Arrivals Centre, administered by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.
Several days before Kallmyr's comment, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced his criticism of the EU's condemnation of his Operation Peace Spring. Should the EU formally label what Turkey lists as an 'anti-terrorism operation' an invasion, Erdogan has threatened to “open the gates” and release 3.6 million asylum seekers.
Currently, an agreement between the EU and Turkey is in place that prevents the asylum seekers from being sent further on to Europe. According to the UN, Turkey's October Syria offensive has already prompted 100,000 people to flee their homes.
Nevertheless, Jøran Kallmyr believes that Norway is better equipped for a possible refugee stream than four years ago. While both the UDI and the government are closely following developments in Syria, the reception apparatus in Norway is being ramped up to deal with a possible massive increase in asylum applications. The Arrivals Centre alone, which has been upgraded from an old shopping centre, will accommodate up to 300 asylum seekers a day.
“We are trying to prevent them from coming to Norway, and let them stay in tents instead of hotel rooms. In 2015, we saw that they sent pictures to friends and said 'here it is luxury, you must come too'. It gave a completely wrong picture of Norway,” Jøran Kallmyr said.
Inside the Arrivals Centre, equipment is in place to test the newcomers for tuberculosis, which proved necessary during the previous migrant crisis.
“We need to monitor them and see if they have infectious diseases. Those rejected should be put on the plane quickly instead of residing in the reception centre,” Kallmyr concluded.
Turkey launched its military operation in northern Syria on 9 October. Its stated mission is to to create a security zone along the Turkish-Syrian border free of Daesh* terrorists and Kurdish militants. Turkey's offensive has upset its NATO allies and prompted numerous condemnations.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries