Manfred Weber, a German member of the European Parliament, criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threats of releasing Syrian refugees into Europe and said using the 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal as leverage would undermine economic relations between the two sides, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Sunday.
“We cannot accept blackmail. Turkey should know this,” the Christian Democrat politician told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in an apparent reference to Erdoğan’s remarks in early September where he said Turkey would have to “open the gates” for the refugees in the event that its demands for a safe zone in northern Syria are not met by the end of the month.
“Are we supposed to carry this burden by ourselves?” Erdoğan had asked. “We may have to do this [release the refugees] in order to receive the necessary support to deal with it.”
Weber said he favors a continuation of the financial aid extended by the EU to Turkey within the framework of the migrant deal to include years after 2019. He also said the amount should be increased if needed as it has been utilized efficiently.
The conservative politician is known for his opposition to Turkey’s membership bid to the EU and has openly criticized Erdoğan for steering the country away from Europe and democratic values.