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    EU-Turkey tensions: Erdogan received by European leaders

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was received in Brussels on Thursday by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, against a backdrop of tension between Brussels and Ankara. No statement was made upon the arrival of the Turkish Head of State at the Council building in the early afternoon. The day before, he had once again urged the EU to take a decision on the issue of Turkey’s accession, demanding that his country not be treated as a “beggar” at the gates of Europe.

    “The EU expects Turkey to withdraw itself”, he said from Ankara before leaving for Brussels, where he is also due to attend a NATO summit on Thursday after talks with Juncker and Tusk.

    “The EU and Turkey must and will work together”, European Commission spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, wrote on Twitter after the tripartite meeting began on Thursday.

    Already stormy since the failed coup of July 2016 in Turkey and the subsequent wave of repression, EU-Turkey relations have deteriorated further during the campaign for the recent referendum aimed at strengthening the powers of Mr Erdogan.

    During the campaign, the Turkish leaders had multiplied invectives towards the Europeans after the prohibition of pro-Erdogan meetings in Germany and the Netherlands.

    The Turkish president went so far as to accuse the EU countries, especially Germany, of “Nazi” behavior and threatened to denounce the March 2016 migratory agreement with Europe.

    The Belgian and German authorities have already warned that they would oppose the holding, on their soil, of a possible Turkish referendum campaign for a reintroduction of the death penalty, envisaged in Turkey.

    Reintroduction of the death penalty would put an end to any prospect of Turkey’s accession to the EU, Brussels has warned several times.

    For his part, Erdogan said in early May that he would say “goodbye” to the EU if new chapters of negotiations for the accession process, that began in 2005 but has been bogged down for years, were not opened.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times