Erdogan "fled" directly to the airport, a new warning issued: Respect the agreement

EU leaders urge Turkey today to respect treaty provisions of keeping migrants away from European borders.

Source: Beta, AFP
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EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS/POOL
EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS/POOL

They met on Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who came to Brussels to seek support.

There was some tension after the talks as Erdogan went directly to the airport instead of holding a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

"It's clear we have our disagreements, but we spoke openly ... it was a good conversation," von der Leyen told reporters after the meeting.

Charles Michel urged Turkey to "honor its commitments" stemming from an EU-Turkey agreement of March 2016 that provides for migrants to remain in Turkey in return for European financial assistance.

However, the Turkish leader, seeking additional assistance with the situation in Syria, decided to open borders and release migrants and refugees to Europe to put pressure on European countries.

Thousands of migrants seeking to reach the EU have since piled up on the Greek-Turkish border. On his arrival in Brussels, Turkish President said he wanted to bring relations between Europe and Turkey to a much higher level.

Erdogan and two European leaders have tasked European Diplomacy Chief Josep Borrell and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to clarify the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement to make sure that both sides have the same interpretation, Michel said.

Von der Leyen said it was good that the lines of communication with Turkey remained open and active, adding that the 2016 agreement was still in force.

Ankara believes that insufficient assistance has been set aside to take care of the four million migrants and refugees who have been staying on its territory for years.

Of the six billion euros foreseen, 3.2 million have already been paid out, according to the European Commission. Earlier, Erdogan met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, requesting from him additional assistance in the conflict in Syria, in accordance with the millions of refugees created by the conflict.

Erdogan also had strongly reproached Greek government, which received 700 million euros from Brussels to secure its borders and face a new bout of migrants. "It is irrational and unprecedented for one ally and one neighboring country to blame Turkey on illegal immigration," Erdogan said.

Stoltenberg praised Turkey by stating that no other ally has suffered so much damage from the terrorist attacks and does not take care of so many refugees. He also expressed great concern about the situation on the Greek-Turkish border.

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