Fighting talk for the EU from Turkey's president

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Fighting talk for the EU from Turkey's president

EU leaders are behaving recklessly, as though they are dancing in a minefield

“Dancing in a minefield”

As Turkey’s Prime Minister meets EU leaders in Brussels, there is fighting talk from the country’s president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned EU leaders should consider their own record on migrants before trying to tell Ankara what to do.

His country will only listen to external criticism on its rights record when the comments are justified, he added.

Erdogan spoke at a ceremony in the western Turkish province of Canakkale marking Gallipoli, the 1915 victory of the Ottoman Empire over the Allied powers. He said some countries are guilty of hypocrisy by directly or indirectly supporting terrorism.

“The bombs we have had in Ankara could easily go off in Brussels. Supporters of the PKK have been allowed to demonstrate outside the summit venue. The EU member states are behaving recklessly, as if they are dancing in a minefield.”

Observers have taken this as an apparent reference to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

A PKK offshoot has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Ankara in the last month that have claimed the lives of 66 people.

The context

Erdogan’s combative comments come as EU leaders are in Brussels, trying to agree a deal with Turkey’s prime minister to resolve the continent’s migrant crisis.

Turkey is being asked to manage the flow in return for political and financial concessions.

Leaders finalised a draft joint proposal late on Thursday. Bilateral and full EU council meetings are being held on Friday as they try to reach an agreement.

What they are saying

“At a time when Turkey is hosting three million migrants, those who are unable to find space for a handful of refugees, who in the middle of Europe keep these innocents in shameful conditions, must first look at themselves,”Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a televised speech.