Erdogan advisor says Turkey could let refugees enter EU

Egemen Bagis, advisor to President Erdogan and former Turkish Minister of EU Affairs

ROME -- “What, a plan B from the EU to take all the migrants coming into Turkey to Greece? No, we haven’t heard anything about such a project. But the majority of migrants from Syria and Iraq would be happy to reach European soil, so they could move on to France or Germany.”

 There is a certain irony in these words of Egemen Bağış, a former Minister of EU Affairs for Turkey, a top advisor to Turkish President Taayyip Erdogan. Speaking in an interview with regional expert Marco Ansaldo of 'La Repubblica newspaper,' Bagis was asked If the EU were to be thinking up some sort of plan B, how would he react?

 "The Turkish people and government wouldn’t care if migrants continued their journey into Europe," Bagis said. "At the end of the day, we want our Syrian and Iraqi neighbours to be happy and to prosper."

 MA: But such a project would mean the money originally destined for Ankara, 6 million euros in total, would go to Athens instead. Wouldn’t this worry you?

 EB: "We have never wanted the EU to use the money for our citizens, but rather for the needs of the millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees that have found a safe space away from their tyrannical leaders. We have spent at least 15 billion euros up until now, but the EU has not lived up to any of its promises."

 MA: Turkey and Greece are the two countries that have suffered the most in terms of migration. Do you think there is a chance the two countries will collaborate?

 EB: "Now is a perfect time for Turkey and Greece to put aside their historical differences and to recreate the spirit of collaboration which their two great visionaries, Ataturk and Venizelos, said was so important. But we must combat terrorism and convince other countries that the real source of the crisis is the cruelty of Assad’s regime."

 MA: What would happen if the United States refused to extradite Fethullah Gülen to Turkey, as you are asking them to do?

 EB: "It is time for the United States to understand that Gülen is not a man of honour, but a traitor. Using his connections, he carried out a coup. If the US were to ignore Turkey, they would risk losing a great ally" Bagis told la Repubblica.