Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Brussels, demanding help from NATO with both the conflict on his southern border and the migrants he tried to unleash on the West, now that neither situation is going according to plan.
After meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, the Turkish leader said he requested “additional assistance” from the alliance, for the “defense” of the Turkish border with Syria and “in connection with the migration challenge.”
“We expect concrete support from all our allies to this struggle,” Erdogan added, urging the allies to support Turkey “without discrimination and with no political preconditions.”
Stoltenberg praised Turkey as an “important” ally which has “contributed to our shared security in many ways,” and said the alliance is “prepared to continue to support Turkey and we are exploring what more we may be able to do.”
It is unclear what those platitudes may amount to in practice, however. Ankara did not bother coordinating with its NATO allies when it sent troops into Syria’s Idlib province last month – or back in October 2019, causing some strain within the bloc.
Though it seemed for a moment that Turkish and Russian troops in Syria might come to blows, the crisis was averted when Erdogan went to Moscow and agreed to a ceasefire last week.
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The main focus of Erdogan’s trip to Brussels is Greece’s refusal to open its border to a wave of migrants that the Turkish president unleashed amid the recent fighting in Syria. Tens of thousands of migrants – only a few actual refugees from the Syrian conflict among them, apparently – heard the borders were open and surged towards Greece, only to be halted at the border fence.
Greece should “open the gates” and let the migrants “go to other European countries,” Erdogan said on Sunday. Other EU countries, including Germany, have protested Turkey’s opening of the border and demands for more financial aid,