- About two weeks ago, after Turkey opened its borders, large numbers of migrants and refugees flocked to the Greek-Turkish border.
- Turkish President Erdogan claims that Greece treats these immigrants in a manner comparable to the Nazi regime.
- European Union has relied on Turkey as a gatekeeper blocking refugees and other immigrants.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that until the EU agreed to meet all of his demands, it would continue to open the border and allow refugees in Turkey to travel to Europe. “Until all expectations are met in a concrete way, we will continue our current practice at our borders,” Erdogan said.
Included in those demands are an update of the customs union and financial assistance to Turkey, Erdogan said in a televised speech. Erdogan also said that Turkey will submit relevant requirements to the EU before the EU’s next summit on March 26.
Greece Compared to the Nazis
Erdogan also said that Greece’s approach to immigrants and refugees on the Greek-Turkish border is almost comparable to the Nazi regime. “There is no difference between what the Nazis did and those images from the Greek border,” he said. He was referring to Greece’s use of tear gas to prevent migrants from reaching the country.
In an interview with the Turkish National News Agency on Tuesday, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Cavusoglu said that the European Union should stop “deceiving Turkey” in helping to resolve the problem of millions of refugees in Turkey. Two days before he made this statement, the two major ruling parties had just agreed to re-examine the 2016 agreement reached between Turkey and the EU aimed at preventing a large influx of refugees into the EU.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey is not “pursuing money” but acting according to principles. He said that the EU has not kept its promises. After the agreement between the European and Turkish parties in 2016, Turkey has received €6 billion in economic subsidies from the European Union. The total number of refugees in Turkey is currently 3.6 million, many of them Syrian refugees. Cavusoglu said the EU should take a “sincere” approach to help Turkey cope with the current situation, such as finding ways to ensure that Syrian refugees return to their homes.
Earlier, President Erdogan had just met with representatives of the European Union and NATO in Brussels. Although during the meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, both Europe and Turkey expressed their commitment to maintaining the immigration agreement signed in 2016, the two sides did not issue a communique after the meeting, and Erdogan did not attend the post-talk press conference.
For four years, the European Union has relied on Turkey as a gatekeeper blocking refugees and other immigrants. Now President Erdogan has put into action his repeated threats. Turkey sends asylum applicants and immigrants directly to the border with EU member states Greece and Bulgaria.
The European Commission has repeatedly initiated procedures to try to implement a more complete asylum system in the European Union and to fairly distribute refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and many African countries among member states. Related efforts have repeatedly failed due to opposition from member states. The objections did not come from Poland, Hungary, Austria or Italy alone. In many EU countries, right-wing and right-wing populist opposition have a solid status. They refuse to accept refugees in their home countries, and they even refuse to immigrate for permanent residence.