It was revealed that President Erdogan requested money for stopping the influx of asylum seekers into Europe.
“We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” Erdogan was quoted as telling European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk after being told that the EU was offering Turkey €3 billion over two years.
The minutes of the meeting that apparently took place in November in Antalya have been published by the Greek financial news website euro2day.gr.
After Tusk mentioned the difficult situation in the European Union, Erdogan, who reportedly demanded €6 billion over two years, said: “So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?”
During a heated debate, the Turkish president warned that up to 15,000 migrants could wash up dead on Greek shores. Last January alone, at least 244 refugees and migrants drowned trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Turkey is a primary destination for asylum seekers and migrants who want to cross to Europe. In 2015, over 850,000 people reached Greece’s shores from Turkey, while the total number of migrants who entered the EU – also via Italy and Spain – exceeded 1 million.
The Turkish president, who often reportedly interrupted Juncker and Tusk, also slammed the publication of a negative report by the European Commission of Turkey’s suitability for joining the EU. The report, which criticized Erdogan’s AK Party over media freedom and judicial independence, was originally due to have been published in mid-October last year, but was held back until after the November 1 general election in Turkey.
According to the euro2day.gr, Erdogan called the report “an insult,” adding that “most Turks don’t want to become members of the EU because of reports like that.”
The European Council and the European Commission declined to confirm or deny the authenticity of the transcript, Reuters reported.
“If the relevant dialogues between the EU officials and the Turkish President are true, it seems that there are aspects of the deal between Ankara and the EU which were concealed on purpose,” Miltos Kyrkos, a member of the European Parliament from the Greek centrist party To Potami told Reuters.
“We want immediately an answer on whether these revelations are true and where the Commission’s legitimacy to negotiate, using Turkey’s accession course as a trump card, is coming from,” he added.
On November 29, Turkey did sign an agreement with the EU at a summit in Brussels in which the country agreed to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for €3 billion of support and the reestablishing of talks on Ankara’s EU accession. However, according to an EU report seen by Reuters in December, Turkey (which hosts over 3 million refugees, with about 2.5 million of them from Syria) failed to significantly reduce departures of migrants for Greek islands in the two weeks since it signed an agreement to do so.