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Erdogan threatens to open border to refugees
November 25, 2016, 9:12 pm

The Turkish President said: "You did not keep your word. When 50,000 refugees were at the Kapikule [Turkey-Bulgaria] border, you cried out" [Xinhua]

The Turkish President said: “You did not keep your word. When 50,000 refugees were at the Kapikule [Turkey-Bulgaria] border, you cried out” [Xinhua]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the European Union on Friday for ‘breaking promises on refugees’ and warned that his government will open its borders to allow refugee migrants to flow into Europe if “[the European Parliament] go too far.”

This comes just after European lawmakers voted on Thursday to halt membership talks with Turkey in what is believed to be a response to Erdogan’s crackdown on opposition forces in recent weeks.

“The decision is not a result of a crisis between Turkey and the EU, rather a reflection of the crisis that the [European Parliament] EP is experiencing in the scope of its values,” Turkey’s EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik said after the vote.

Speaking at a meeting of the Women and Democracy Association in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey was bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis, housing and feeding over three million people.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reports that Erdogan directly addressed the EU saying, “You did not keep your word. When 50,000 refugees were at the Kapikule [Turkey-Bulgaria] border, you cried out.”

“You started to say: ‘What will we do if Turkey opens border gates?'”

In response to Ankara’s threat, the German Foreign Ministry on Friday said it is in the interests of both the EU and Turkey to stick to the agreement on migrants.

Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka rejected outright Erdogan’s criticism as blackmail.

He said that Ankara shared its burden in ensuring the deal is working efficiently is ultimately successful.

The warning recalls a deal stuck between Ankara and the EU in March, whereby Turkey agreed to help stem the flow of refugees across its borders and to take back migrants rejected for asylum in Europe.

One tenet of the deal held that one refugee currently in a camp in Turkey will be resettled in Europe for each that is sent back.

The one-for-one deal with Turkey is designed to thwart smugglers and dissuade desperate refugees from making the dangerous journey across the Adriatic or Aegean seas to Greece.

The amount of financial assistance pledged to help Turkey with its refugee problem – some three million refugees fled there from Syria – will be doubled under the agreement to about $6.7 billion.

But the agreement caps off at 72,000 ‘repatriated’ refugees.

Turkey had been hoping to win support for its stalled, decades-old bid to join the EU. Long-time adversary Cyprus said it would be forced to block the resumption of EU-Turkey talks on joining the union unless Ankara opened its ports to Cypriot shipping.

Turkey has also asked for the EU to allow its citizens visa-free travel through the continent.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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