Erdogan threatened to “flood Europe with refugees”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to flood Europe with migrants in November if European Union leaders did not offer him a better deal to help manage the refugee crisis, a Greek news website said on Monday.
Publishing what it said were minutes of a tense meeting last November, the euro2day.gr financial news website revealed deep mutual irritation and distrust in talks between Erdogan and the EU’s two top officials, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk.
The EU officials were trying to enlist Ankara’s help in stemming an influx of Syrian refugees and migrants into Europe. Over a million arrived last year, most crossing the narrow sea gap between Turkey and islands belonging to EU member Greece.
Tusk’s European Council and Juncker’s European Commission declined to confirm or deny the authenticity of the document, and Erdogan’s office in Ankara had no immediate comment.
The account of the meeting, in English, was produced in facsimile on the website. It does not state when or where the meeting took place, but it appears to have been on 16 November, in Antalya, Turkey, where the three met after a G20 summit.
“We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses ... So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?” Erdogan was quoted in the text as telling the EU officials.
It also quoted him as demanding EUR 6 bln over two years.
When Juncker made clear only half that amount was on offer, he said Turkey didn’t need the EU’s money anyway.
The EU eventually agreed on a EUR 3 bln fund to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey, revive Ankara’s longstalled accession talks, and accelerate visa-free travel for Turks, in exchange for Ankara curbing the numbers of asylum seekers pouring into neighbouring Greece.
In heated exchanges, Erdogan often interrupted Juncker and Tusk, the purported minutes show, accusing the EU of deceiving Turkey, and of Juncker personell being