Turkey will ‘open up border gates’ if EU goes further: Erdoğan

Turkey will ‘open up border gates’ if EU goes further: Erdoğan

Turkey will ‘open up border gates’ if EU goes further: Erdoğan

AA photo

Turkey will open up its border gates and let refugees stream toward Europe “if the EU goes further,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened in the wake of a European Parliament vote on Nov. 24 to temporarily freeze accession talks with Ankara.

“Some 30-40 votes for ‘no’ and 400-500 votes for ‘yes.’ What would happen if all of you voted ‘yes?’ You never treated humanity honestly and you did not look after people fairly. You did not pick up babies when they washed ashore on the Mediterranean. We are the ones who are feeding around 3.5 million refugees in this country,” Erdoğan said. 

“You did not keep your promises. When 50,000 refugees turned up at the Kapıkule [border gate] you cried out and began to say ‘What will we do when Turkey opens the border gates?’ Look, if you go further, those border gates will be opened. You should know that,” he said. 

Noting that threats against people would not work, Erdoğan invoked his oft-repeated refrain that the “world is bigger than five,” referring to the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members.

“The world is bigger than five. We need to defend that, but we shouldn’t be afraid of some people. We can’t applaud cruelty in order to look nice to someone,” he also said. 

During his speech, Erdoğan stressed that Turkey would not “collapse because of sanctions.” 

“Are the ones who have been keeping the doors of the EU closed for 53 years imposing sanctions? What if they do? Are we finished; will we collapse? These sanctions won’t cause us to collapse. We will stand straight and continue on our way. Don’t forget, the West needs Turkey,” he added. 

Noting that Turkey was sheltering millions of refugees, Erdoğan said: “Turkey didn’t think about whether it would receive money from EU while doing that. The amount that came from the U.N. is 500 million dollars. The number is 700 when it comes to the EU. How much did we spend? Fifteen billion dollars. There are lots of crises that threaten humanity. I will stress one point. If there wasn’t a refugee crisis, believe me, the humanitarian plights in those countries would go nearly unnoticed.”

EU lawmakers on Nov. 24 called for a temporary halt to Turkey’s accession talks because of what they called Ankara’s “disproportionate” reaction to July’s failed coup that has included a massive crackdown on the country’s opposition. 

Turkish authorities have detained or dismissed tens of thousands of people over their alleged backing for the coup, in what the opposition, some rights groups and some Western allies say is an attempt to crush all dissent. 

Members of the European Parliament voted 479 to 37 in favor of the non-binding motion urging the European Commission and national governments to implement what lawmakers acknowledge would be a largely symbolic freeze in negotiations that have been going on for 11 years but have long been stalled. 

Under a deal clinched in March, Turkey agreed to take back illegal migrants and refugees leaving its shores for Greece in return for aid and visa-free travel for Turks in Europe. The deal has slashed the number of migrants reaching the EU, but the visa-free deal has not been implemented due to Turkey’s anti-terror law.