President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the European Union Tuesday it needs Turkey more than Ankara needs the bloc, as tensions grew over promises for visa liberalisation in a crucial deal on stemming t
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the European Union Tuesday it needs Turkey more than Ankara needs the bloc, as tensions grew over promises for visa liberalisation in a crucial deal on stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.
Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu had earlier bluntly told the EU that Ankara would no longer abide by the March migrant accord if Brussels fails to implement the pledge to grant Turks visa-free travel by June.
Tensions have also been fuelled by a European Parliament report published last week that accused Turkey of backsliding on democracy and pressure from Ankara on Berlin to prosecute a German comic over a poem satirising Mr Erdogan.
The issues are coming to a head as Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials prepare to travel Saturday to the Turkish city of Gaziantep close to the Syrian border to discuss implementation of the migrant deal.
“The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union,” Mr Erdogan said to cheers in a televised speech to municipal leaders in Ankara, denouncing as “provocative” the European Parliament report.
He lashed out at the report for not praising Turkey’s hosting of some 2.7 million refugees from the war in neighbouring Syria.
“Three million people have been looked after in this country so they don’t disturb the Europeans. Is there anything about this in the report ” said Mr Erdogan.
“At a time when our relations with the European Union are in a positive phase regarding the migrants... it is provocative to come out with a report like that.”
Turkey has been given a string of promises from the European Union, including visa-free travel to the border-free Schengen Zone and new momentum for its long-stalled membership bid.