Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will travel to Brussels on Monday for a one-day working visit, his office said in a statement Saturday, the AP reported.
The president’s planned visit comes amid heightened tensions between Ankara and Brussels following Turkey’s decision last week to open its border to Greece, prompting violent clashes between migrants and security forces in the region.
A spokesperson for European Council President Charles Michel, whom Erdogan is expected to meet in Brussels, said he could not yet confirm the meeting would take place.
Erdoğan said last week his country could no longer take in more refugees and demanded the EU take responsibility for the large number of people fleeing war in Syria. The Turkish president also called for a revision of the EU-Turkey migration deal signed in 2016, saying Ankara needed more money from Brussels to deal with the large number of arrivals.
The EU responded to Erdoğan’s decision to open Turkey’s border to Greece with a show of support for Athens in protecting the bloc’s borders, and said it would not tolerate illegal crossings. The bloc’s foreign ministers on Friday issued a statement saying that the EU “strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes.”
Speaking to German newspaper Welt on Saturday, European Commissioner for the Budget Johannes Hahn called on Erdoğan to stop his “blackmailing politics” and warned that the sum of future financial aid to Turkey would be “significantly lower than in the past four years.”
“Many schools, kindergartens and hospitals for refugees have already been built and do not need to be financed again,” he said, adding that the money should be paid “mostly via aid organizations” instead of the Turkish government.
Turkey and Russia reached a new cease-fire deal on Thursday, raising hopes that a halt in the violence in Syria could take pressure off Turkey and the EU to resolve their dispute over migration. The bloc has also said it wants to deploy humanitarian aid to the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib to incentivize people not to flee.