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Donald Tusk tells Turkey: don’t ‘weaponise’ refugees

Saturday, 12 October, 2019, 21:20
Donald Tusk tells Turkey: don’t ‘weaponise’ refugees

European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday criticised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat of “opening the gates” to send 3.6 million refugees to Europe if the EU labels Ankara’s incursion into northern Syria region as an “invasion”.

"Turkey must understand that our main concern is that their actions may lead to another humanitarian catastrophe," Mr Tusk said at a press conference in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, on the third day of the Ankara’s incursion into northern Syria.

"And we will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us," he added, referring to an EU agreement with Ankara on refugees, struck in March 2016 as a result of a wave of migration to the bloc.

"President Erdogan's threats of yesterday are totally out of place," he added.

Mr Erdogan had said yesterday: "Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you.”

European leaders didn’t react warmly to the Turkish president’s words. Earlier on Friday, the French minister for European affairs indicated that sanctions on Turkey over its incursion into northern Syria were a possibility.
Amélie de Montchalin told France Inter that the EU’s response to the incursion would be debated at the European Council meeting next week.

Asked if sanctions against Ankara would be under consideration, she said: "Obviously that's on the table."

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde, meanwhile, said that she plans to push for an arms embargo on Ankara, a policy that won the approval of the Swedish parliament on Friday. Finland and Norway however, suspended the export of weapons to Turkey.