In the wake of a European Parliament vote to freeze accession talks with Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Thursday threatened Europe, saying that without Ankara’s help it could be “flooded” by waves of migrants and that cutting off talks with the bloc would be far more damaging to Europe than Turkey.
Speaking to Turkish media on Thursday evening, Yıldırım said: “We are one of the elements protecting Europe. If the refugees [are allowed to], they will flood into Europe and take it over. Turkey is currently preventing this.”
In contrast with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s efforts to promote membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also known as the Shanghai Five, Yıldırım said it should not be considered an alternative to the European Union.
“I accept that cutting off ties with Europe would harm Turkey, but it would damage Europe five to six times more,” he said.
On Thursday the European Parliament voted to suspend Turkey’s EU membership talks because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to a failed coup attempt that took place on July 15.
A total of 479 deputies voted in favor of imposing a “temporary freeze” on the talks with Turkey while 37 deputies voted against the non-binding resolution.
Turkey’s EU accession talks began in 2005, but only one of the 35 policy areas — called “chapters” — has been closed. A country is ready to join the EU only when it has met the criteria in all 35 chapters.