Turkey to hold summit with EU leaders on refugee crisis: Erdoğan
A boy walks among pairs of shoes at the premises of an NGO next to the Moria camp for refugees and migrants, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on March 9, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey will host a summit in Istanbul on March 17 with the leaders of France, Germany and possibly Britain to discuss the migrant issue after Turkey started allowing them to try to cross into Europe late February.
“We will come together in Istanbul next Tuesday” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Erdoğan told reporters aboard his plane back from talks in Brussels on March 10. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to attend at the summit as well, he added.
Turkey was not considering closing its border gates to Europe for now and that Greece must open its own gates, he said.
Erdoğan said that in his talks with EU officials in Brussels he stressed that Turkey-EU relations should be addressed from a broad perspective.
Revising the March 18, 2016 migrant deal, updating of the Customs Union agreement, resolving the visa liberalization issue for Turkish nationals, the opening of new accession negotiation chapters, rapid transfer of a total of 6 billion euros in funds and additional funds were on his agenda, Erdoğan said.
Turkey conveyed its expectations to both NATO and the European Union during talks in Brussels and waits for a positive outcome at a meeting of the Alliance on March 11, Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said he asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to manage oil fields in northeast Syria’s Deir al-Zor region, instead of “terrorists exploiting” them.
“I made the offer to Mr. Putin that if he gives financial support, we can do the construction and through the oil obtained here, we can help the destroyed Syria get on its feet,” Erdoğan stated.
Erdoğan said Putin was evaluating the offer, adding that he could make the same offer to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The United States was softening its stance on a potential sale of U.S. Patriot defense systems, adding that Washington had asked Ankara to guarantee it will not activate the Russian S-400 defense systems.
“We made this offer to the United States on the Patriot: If you are going to give us Patriots, then do it. We can also buy Patriots from you,” he stated.
“They also softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of ‘promise us you won’t make the S-400s operational’,” he added.
Elaborating on the coronavirus outbreak, Erdoğan said the fact that the coronavirus epidemic, affecting 114 countries, has not been seen in Turkey is a testament to measures Turkey has taken.
EU officials “admitted that the union was slow to fulfill its obligations under the March 18 refugee deal, the president said. “A joint effort will be made to speed up this process, and technical and political teams will create a road map. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU High Representative Josep Borrell will carry out this process. We anticipate that this work will deliver its first products until the EU Leaders Summit on March 26,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan also elaborated on a Russian state TV broadcasting of a video allegedly showing Turkey’s president being kept waiting by his Russian counterpart before a meeting last week.
“Unfortunately, such impulsive examples can be found in the media of every country. However, Turkish and Russian relations cannot be sacrificed to such mediatic manipulation. Our friends met with all their interlocutors on the subject. They stated that no bad intention was absolutely in question and they were seriously disturbed by this attitude,” he said.