Merkel responds as Erdogan threatens opening borders for migrants

Merkel responds as Erdogan threatens opening borders for migrants
2 min read
25 November, 2016
Germany said on Friday difficulties can be 'resolved' after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to drop border controls if talks over Turkey's membership in the EU are suspended.
The European Parliament voted on Thursday to freeze Turkey's membership talks [Getty]
Berlin warned on Friday that Ankara's threats on ending the EU-Turkey migrant deal are "not helpful", after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to drop border controls if talks over his country's membership in the EU are suspended. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the deal is in the "interest of all parties" and that "threats on either side are not helpful", adding that "where there are difficulties, we need to resolve them".

Erdogan threatened on Friday to throw open Turkey's borders to illegal migrants after the European Parliament voted to back a freeze in membership talks with Ankara.

"Listen to me. If you go any further, then the frontiers will be opened, bear that in mind," Erdogan told the EU in a speech in Istanbul.

On March 18, Ankara and Brussels forged a deal for Turkey to halt the flow of migrants to Europe - an accord that has largely been successful in reducing numbers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.

Turkey agreed to step up maritime and land border controls in exchange for incentives on its long-stalled membership bid, including visa-free travel for its citizens and an acceleration of accession talks.

But with an October target passing and no apparent progress on the visa issue and accession talks stalled, Ankara has stepped up accusations that Brussels was not keeping its side of the bargain.

The latest setback was the vote on Thursday by the European Parliament to freeze membership talks, a move prompted by alarm over Turkey's crackdown after an attempted putsch.

But the resolution is non-binding and has not been backed by the European Commission or almost any member states.

Erdogan said that the EU had cried out for help in 2015, as tens of thousands of migrants massed at the border crossing with EU member Bulgaria.

"You began to ask us 'what will we do if Turkey opens its borders'?" he asked.

Around one million migrants from poverty-stricken countries and refugees from wars crossed into Europe in 2015, raising fears of a social crisis in the EU and strengthening the hand of right-wing nationalist parties.

Agencies contributed to this report.