Erdoğan likens Greek police to Nazis, criticizes treatment of migrants

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President of Turkey and Leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkey’s president on Wednesday made the incendiary claim that the Greek authorities’ alleged mistreatment of migrants at its border was comparable to “what the Nazis did” and said he would denounce Greece’s action at international platforms, The Associated Press reported.

In his weekly address to ruling party’s legislators, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said there would be no change to his government’s policy of allowing migrants to cross into Europe until the European Union fulfills obligations set out in a 2016 Turkish-EU deal that helped stem a migrant crisis.

Thousands of migrants massed on Turkey’s border with Greece after the Turkish government said last month it would no longer try to contain migrants in its territory.

To prevent the crossings Athens deployed riot police and border guards who in many cases used tear gas, flash grenades and water cannons. Several clashes have erupted between the migrants and the Greek forces. Greece says that Turkish security forces fired tear gas from the other side of the border at Greek officers.

Erdoğan said Greece’s actions have resulted in the death of four migrants and that around 1,000 were injured. Greece denies accusations of mistreatment.

“There’s no difference with what the Nazis did and the images from the border with Greece,” Erdoğan said. “To open fire, fire tear gas and use boiling water on innocent people whose only aim is to save their lives and build a better future for their children is barbaric in the true meaning of the word.”

Under the 2016 agreement, the EU offered Turkey up to 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in aid for the Syrian refugees it hosts and fast-tracked EU membership accession negotiations as well as a revision of a customs union agreement.

“We will continue the current [open borders] measure on our borders until all of our expectations are concretely met,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan’s comments came days after he traveled to Brussels for talks with top EU officials after which the sides agreed that teams headed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu would review the four-year-old migration deal.

Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday the teams would try and come up with a “roadmap” in time for an EU summit on March 26.

The Turkish president has in the past also compared other European countries, notably Germany and the Netherlands, to Nazis, sparking tensions with these nations.

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