EU-Turkey migrant crisis: Erdogan meets EU Council President Michel, NO handshake due to coronavirus
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Erdogan is expected to press the European Union for more help caring for Syrian refugees after EU officials accused him of “blackmail” for waving migrants through to Europe.
As he greeted Michel, Erdoğan had patted his chest with his hand and said “corona” in the direction of the assembled photographers, in an apparent explanation of the lack of a handshake between the two men.
Ahead of the talks Michel said the two sides had “different opinions on different things ,and that is why it is important to have a frank and open dialogue”.
Thousands of migrants have massed at Turkey’s land border with EU-member Greece after Erdogan’s government made good on a long-standing threat and announced it would no longer prevent migrants from crossing.
Turkey hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and Erdogan has demanded that Europe shoulder more of the burden of caring for them.
He has accused the EU of not meeting its obligations, including failing to pay money promised to Turkey under a 2016 deal to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. The EU says it is disbursing the funds.
Ahead of talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Erdogan addressed a group of Turkish nationals who gathered in front of the Turkish diplomatic mission to greet him.
“We want to carry the EU-Turkey relations to a stronger point,” he said.
The Turkish leader was to meet later with top EU officials, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, to discuss the 2016 deal.