A gift from Erdoğan’s opponents
It couldn’t have been better. Opposition papers recently published the minutes of an EU meeting, probably with the thought they would portray President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan badly. However, they actually turned out to be quite beneficial for Erdoğan.
The dialogues the opposition papers thought would serve against Erdoğan actually strengthened Erdoğan’s hand and have polished him in the eyes of the public.
The minutes magnified in opposition papers were presented as Erdoğan “using refugees to blackmail the EU.”
During the G-20 summit in Antalya in November 2015, Erdoğan met with two top executives of the EU, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to discuss how to solve the refugee crisis.
The first media outlet to publish the minutes was a Greek news site (Turkish papers took them from this site).
Obviously, the EU, as it has always done, shared the minutes of these meetings with its 28 member countries. The “wise heads” in Athens leaked it so as to show the role of Turkey in the refugee flow to Greek islands because in the notes, Erdoğan was recorded as saying that if what Turkey said was not met, the country may open its Greek and Bulgarian borders and bus in Syrian refugees.
The style these minutes were presented in revealed the intention of the leakers; they were presented like “caught red-handed” reports, presenting Erdoğan’s words as a confession.
The local anti-Erdoğanists acted as if they had come across an unexpected opportunity…
Supposedly Erdoğan had bargained over refugees and this was seen as a “dirty horse” trade. This was a document of shame, allegedly.
But when you look into the content, you see the EU used delaying tactics and wished to burden the whole refugee load on Turkey and get out of it.
What the EU was facing is an Erdoğan who was slamming these tactics, who was fighting to protect the interests of his country, never surrendering, always pressuring and giving them a piece of his mind, and at the same time not refraining from threatening.
When you read these minutes, you can only say “Well done” to Erdoğan. You can say Erdoğan has certainly defended the country against the EU. You can say, “Erdoğan has overtaken the mighty EU commissioners and slammed them against the wall.”
If you are not able to say that, then it means that you are extremely anti-Erdoğan and your eyes are blinded to the extent that you do not see that this text favors him.
Nobody would condemn the president for scolding EU officials while Turkey alone is hosting 2.5 million Syrians, while the EU does not move or contribute and always delays. Did you say threatening and blackmailing?
Well, does Turkey have a pledge to protect the EU from refugees? Did it promise to be Europe’s refugee camp? Why should we block them one-sidedly and not confront the EU with its own hypocrisy?
Tusk said they were giving 3 billion euros for two years but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was asking for this same figure for one year.
Erdoğan replied, “You will give 3 billion euros for two years. There is no need to talk any further. We do not need the EU’s money. We would open the Greek and Bulgarian borders and put the refugees on buses…”
Tusk told Erdoğan that the EU “really wants a deal.”
Erdoğan went on: “So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?”
Juncker, attempting to use the indebtedness factor, was quoted as stating the delay in the publication of the commission’s progress report on Turkey was done at Erdoğan’s request.
“The EU has done nothing for Turkey. This money is not for Turkey; it is for the refugees. Moreover, you are using our accession funds. You have been mocking us,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.
What is happening to the blindness of the opposition that infers a document of shame from this charter of pride?