Turkey’s leader presses EU for help amid migrant standoff
BRUSSELS: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed the European Union on Monday for more help caring for Syrian refugees after EU officials accused him of “blackmail” for waving migrants through to Europe.
Thousands of migrants have massed at Turkey’s land border with EU-member Greece since Erdogan’s government made good on a longstanding threat and announced it would no longer prevent migrants from crossing.
EU countries have rallied behind Greece, which is also a member of NATO, and described it as a “shield” protecting Europe’s borders with the outside world.
“It is beyond reason and understanding that a neighboring and ally country can point to us as the cause of the wave of irregular migration,” Erdogan told reporters after talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Turkey hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and Erdogan has demanded that Europe shoulder more of the burden of caring for them.
He has accused the EU of not meeting its obligations, including failing to pay money promised to Turkey under a 2016 deal to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. The EU says it is disbursing the funds.
The Turkish leader later met with top EU officials, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, to discuss the 2016 deal. - AP