Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Has Harsh Words for Europe

Prime Minister Erdogan gestures during a news conference after their meeting with Russia's President PutinTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had harsh words Friday for Europe, saying his nation won’t reform its anti-terrorism legislation just for the sake of getting visa-free travel for its citizens there.

The tough talk comes at a time when Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

As part of an agreement in which Turkey will help halt the flood of migrants and refugees from the Middle East, the European Union asked the nations in the bloc to allow Turkish citizens to travel to Europe without visas on short stays. In exchange, the EU wants Turkey to meet certain conditions, among them a revision of its harsh anti-terrorism laws.

But Erdoğan has been pressing for quite the opposite

“The EU at the moment is saying, ‘you will change your anti-terrorism law for visas,'” Erdogan said in an unusually tough speech in Istanbul.

Addressing European leaders, he countered: “You allow terrorists to set up tents next to the European Parliament. Why don’t you change your mindset? You will allow terrorists to set up tents, say you are doing it in the name of democracy, and then tell us to change our terrorism law for visas,” Erdoğan said.

“We’ll go our way, you go yours,” he added, sharply. “Go make your agreement with whoever you can.”

The EU, which needs Turkey’s help on the migrant crisis, is not in the best position to pressure Erdogan to pursue reforms on any front.

Erdoğan’s announcement could doom the carefully crafted and long-negotiated migrant deal, said Amanda Paul, senior policy analyst and Turkey specialist at the European Policy Center, an independent Brussels think tank.

“If he’s serious, and if Turkey has no intention of changing what currently exists, which is obviously not acceptable to the EU, then it looks like we are facing a possible collapse of the migration deal, which is obviously a very serious issue,” Paul said.

“Erdogan is really pushing the EU against the wall,” she said.

Earlier Friday, German government spokesman Georg Streiter said the migrant accord “is in the common interest of the EU and Turkey.”

“The EU and Germany will continue to fulfill all agreed commitments, and we also expect this from the Turkish side,” he said. “It isn’t an agreement between the EU and Mr. Davutoğlu; it’s an agreement between the EU and Turkey.”