Blaming Turkey for the refugee crisis is a “real ingratitude,” the country’s President said on Thursday.
“It is Greece that is condemning refugees to death by skewering their boats,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a press conference alongside Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, in the capital, Ankara, following a meeting between the two. “We have all the documents.”
Erdogan also said that Greece, as a whole, had “turned into a US military base,” referring to US military deployments in the northern Alexandroupoli (Dedeagac) region of Greece.
For his part, Orban underlined the need for a defensive perimeter around Europe, noting that the continent was under migration pressures from the Mediterranean, Western Balkans and Belarus.
He said that Europe was in need of allies, and if such a perimeter is not established, the continent would be in a “difficult situation.”
“We should help our Turkish friends on migration. The EU should support Turkey as much as possible.”
Turkey already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any country in the world, amid signs that a new wave of Afghan refugees might head towards Turkey and the EU.
Erdogan also said that the two had discussed bilateral relations, international and regional issues, and economic and commercial ties during the meeting.
He noted that the current trade volume between the two countries was $3-4 billion; he said they aimed to raise this figure to $6 billion.
Saying that 2024 would be celebrated as Turkey-Hungary Cultural Year, Erdogan thanked Orban and Hungarian officials for the return to Turkey of 101 pieces of historical artefacts on Thursday.
This cooperation “showed the entire world that an effective fight” against the smuggling of cultural assets is possible.
The historical artefacts were seized by Hungarian security forces during an operation in October 2016.
President Erdogan also thanked Hungary for their “strong support” for Turkey’s EU membership bid.