After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened Europe on Friday with opening the border gates to 3 million refugees in Turkey, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker asked Europe to refrain from giving lessons to Turkey, adding that Europe has relations with all dictatorships.
In an interview with Euronews on Friday, Juncker responded to questions on Turkey and said Turkey hosts in its territory more than 3 million migrants and refugees, unlike Europe. As a result, he urged Europe to be more reasonable in its criticism of Turkey.
In response to a question on continuing dialogue with an increasingly authoritarian leader, in reference to Erdoğan, Juncker said the EU has “links with regimes that are odious” but that “everybody’s worried about Turkey, but nobody’s talking about Saudi Arabia.”
“We have relations with all dictatorships because we need to help organize, to co-organize the world,” the EU commission president said. Turkey has been negotiating for EU membership since 2005 as an official candidate country.
Saying that he has known Erdoğan for the last 17 or 18 years, Juncker noted that Erdoğan also knows him but did not necessarily say what this acquaintance means for EU-Turkey relations.
Praising the efforts of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon for hosting refugees, Juncker said the EU has to be “humble” when talking on those issues.
Following the European Parliament’s vote on Thursday in favor of freezing talks with Turkey, several Cabinet members said the people of Turkey do not care about Europe despite public opinion polls that still show a significant desire to become a member of the EU.