Minutes revealing refugee talks with EU leaders provide ‘absolution,’ says Erdoğan

Minutes revealing refugee talks with EU leaders provide ‘absolution,’ says Erdoğan

Minutes revealing refugee talks with EU leaders provide ‘absolution,’ says Erdoğan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted the validity of minutes from his negotiations with European Union leaders on Syrian refugees that were recently leaked to the press, saying the statements did not cause shame but provided “absolution.”

“Some try to attack us by [giving] the minutes of these meetings,” Erdoğan said during his speech at the general assembly of the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK), referring to a Nov. 19 meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker where he allegedly threatened to flood Europe with migrants if a deal was not reached with the EU. 

“You must have read what we said there. We defended the rights of our country and of Syrians,” Erdoğan said, adding the published minutes were “not a source of shame but provided absolution.”

“In the past we have stopped people at the gates of Europe; in Edirne we stopped their buses. This happens once or twice, and then we’ll open the gates and wish them a safe journey, that’s what I said,” Erdoğan told the audience.

The Turkish president reiterated his anger with the United Nations, which demanded that Turkey open its borders to a new wave of Syrian refugees from Aleppo due to increased attacks by the Syrian regime and Russia. 

Erdoğan said the U.N. should make efforts to halt these attacks that “target civilian populations,” instead of making demands on Turkey.

“How much have you supported Turkey that has spent some $10 billion on refugees,” he asked, saying their $455 million in assistance was “shameful.”

A Greek news website published minutes of Erdoğan’s November 2015 meeting with Juncker and Tusk on Feb. 8, which was largely picked up by Turkish media outlets as documents of a “bargain.”

In the minutes, Erdoğan said Turkey could open its borders with Greece and Bulgaria, and send the refugees to Europe in buses, if a deal was not reached. 

The president also rejected the idea of receiving 3 billion euros over a span of two years, instead of a year. 

“If you suggest giving 3 billion euros for two years, there is nothing to discuss,” he reportedly said.

The minutes also include Erdoğan stressing that he is “not representing a third world country,” in response to Juncker’s comments that he was welcomed “like a prince,” in Brussels. 

Allegedly, Juncker also reminded Erdoğan of the postponement of Turkey’s Progress Report, which harsh criticized the current situation of rule of law and free speech, until after the country’s Nov. 1 elections, arguing the delay contributed to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) election victory. 

Erdoğan singlehandedly rejects Juncker’s argument, saying the report was an “insult,” and did not reflect the “real Turkey.”