Erdoğan threatened to bus refugees to Greece and Bulgaria
Two months ago I posted on how Turkey blackmailed the EU to reach a deal on the migrant crisis by threatening to unleash more migrants into Europe. This rather scandalous claim was based on a tweet by President Erdoğan’s adviser Burhan Kuzu. Maybe to the skeptically inclined a tweet is not enough to convince them that Turkey really did blackmail the EU. Well now we have even more evidence supporting this claim.
An official EU memo, which appears to be a summary of a meeting between Erdoğan and EU officials such as Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, has been leaked and published by various Greek media outlets. The memo contains the following exchange between Juncker and Erdoğan:
“Erdogan asked whether the proposal would be for 3 bn or 6bn. When Juncker confirmed the 3bn, Erdogan said that Turkey didn’t need the EU’s money anyway. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses”. If you say 3bn for two years, no need to discuss further. Greece got more than 400 bn euro during the euro crisis. We should have invested some of that money into a safe zone in Syria, which would have solved all problems with refugees.
Erdogan asks rhetorically: “So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?”
Erdogan says that the EU will be confronted with more than a dead boy on the shores of Turkey. There will be 10,000 or 15,000. How will you deal with that?”
So if we are to believe the EU, and Burhan Kuzu, during negotiations with the EU Erdoğan threatened to bus refugees into Greece and Bulgaria (seems like a reasonable negotiation tactic). Of this revelation what is most odd to me is not Erdoğan’s behavior, as that is to be expected from him, but the EU’s behavior. EU officials seem to docilely tolerate being pushed around by Turkey. During the aforementioned meeting, Erdoğan belittled Juncker’s home country, saying “Luxemborg is just like a town in Turkey.” When Juncker countered “we have treated you as a prince in Brussels,” Erdoğan scoffed, “like a prince? Of course, I’m not representing a third world country.”
Furthermore the deal that was agreed upon in early December, has had no effect on migrant flows into Europe, as 62,000 asylum seekers entered Greece in January of this year, at least 21 times more than in last January. In response to this situation another deal has just been agreed upon between Turkey and Germany, which I highly doubt will have any effect on migrant inflows into Europe.
So the EU keeps dealing with Turkey, even though the latter is just playing games with them and is taking advantage of them. It is interesting that the EU has recently proposed sending troops to seal the Macedonia’s border with Greece. Now why doesn’t the EU seal the actual European frontier border, i.e. the Greek border, on land and sea, with Turkey? Doesn’t this may more sense if you want to control migrant inflows into Europe?
And instead of the EU standing up and assertively negotiating with Turkey, they once again bully Greece by threatening to evict them from the Schengen zone if they do not do more to halt the influx of migrants. How is Tsipras’ open borders policy any different from that of Merkel’s?
In the memo when Erdoğan asks “so how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal?” Tusk replies, “the EU can make itself less attractive to refugees, but that’s not the solution we want.” So by their own admission EU officials do not want to physically prevent refugees from entering the EU, at most they want to make themselves “less attractive to refugees.” Yet, they want Greece, a country beset by economic chaos, to somehow control the inflow of migrants when they themselves are unwilling to do anything.
The way the EU is negotiating with Turkey and treating Greece is like something out of the bizarro world. And people are shocked that politicians such as Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen are surging in popularity.