Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to unleash a new wave of asylum seekers and migrants on Europe after politicians there voted for a temporary halt to Turkey’s EU membership negotiations.
Europe’s deteriorating relations with Turkey, a buffer against the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, are endangering a deal which has helped to significantly reduce an asylum seeker influx which saw more than 1.3 million people arrive in Europe last year.
“You clamoured when 50,000 refugees came to Kapikule, and started wondering what would happen if the border gates were opened,” Mr Erdogan said, referring to a Bulgarian border checkpoint where asylum seekers massed last year.
“If you go any further, these border gates will be opened,” he told a women’s conference, dismissing Thursday’s vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Neither I nor my people will be affected by these empty threats.