Leaked transcripts of the negotiations that took place between the leadership of the European Union back in November, directly with Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdoğan, reveal tense dialogue and an Erdogan who realizes that the EU is on its knees and has no alternative plan to handle the influx of refugees from Syria.
The Guardian called Erdogan “confident that he holds all the cards in the negotiation” based on the diplomatic record of the meeting he had with Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, respectively.
The four-page record of the meeting between Erdoğan, Juncker and Tusk paints a bleak picture of an EU prostrate and with its head bowed before a Turkish leader who treats their offers, pleas, and arguments with derision and ridicule.
“We really want a deal with you,” Tusk told Erdoğan, according to the leak of the note to the Greek financial media website, euro2day.gr, which leaked the confidential documents. (images below)
“So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?” Erdoğan responded.
He asked whether the EU was offering Turkey €3 billion a year, or the same figure over two years. When told the latter, he said: “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and put the refugees on buses.”
In what was clearly a tense meeting, Erdogan belittled Juncker— who had been prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013. Saying he represented 80 million people, he told Juncker: “Luxembourg is just like a little town in Turkey.”
Erdogan also brought up Greece in the talks, calling the €3 billion offer “an insult”. Erdogan said in the meetings that “Greece got more than $450 billion during the euro crisis… But $3.4 billion is an insult.”
Fast forward to the present and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has since confirmed that the €3 billion discussed in November is, in fact, a down payment for Turkey with more money to follow.
European commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Monday that the €3bn, only agreed finally last week by the EU, was merely an “initial” payment. Merkel herself alluded to the same following her most recent meeting with Erdogan in Ankara.
Juncker admitted to Erdoğan that the EU delayed publication of a highly critical report on the state of democracy in Turkey until after elections in early November to favor the president’s governing AK party. Erdoğan dismissed the report as an “insult”.
Erdoğan also complained about the lack of summits between Turkey and the EU.
A full summit was staged in Brussels two weeks later.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine also suggested that the transcript shows the extent to which the EU is being blackmailed by Erdogan.
“Erdogan is the gatekeeper for more than two million refugees who are currently living in Turkey, so he can make demands that until recently were poison to the Europeans.”
“The minutes are not the first indication of how robust Erdogan is behaving in the refugee crisis. His visit in early October 2015 is still well remembered by top figures in the EU,” when he met with Juncker, Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
“Erdogan, the guest, left no doubt about who was in charge. After some chat he invited the others to the table with a gesture ‘like a sultan,’ recalled one person who was there.”
The German magazine also quoted leading members of Angela Merkel’s cabinet, who are “under no illusions when it comes to the intentions of the Turkish president,” and said it was conceivable that the three billion euros already promised to Erdogan may soon have to be increased.
“Everyone knows that he can blackmail us,” a cabinet source told Spiegel.
“And we will pay it.”
The leaked transcripts of the meeting: