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 Turkey's Erdogan threatens to open gates for migrants to enter Europe

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his country could open its border for refugees to stream into Europe after E.U. MEPs voted for a temporary halt to membership talks.

As reported by Censor.NET citing The Independent, Erdogan warned speaking at a congress on womens' justice in Istanbul: "If you go any further, these border gates will be opened. Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats. It wouldn't matter if all of you approved the vote".

He said the E.U. had "wailed" for help controlling the flow of refugees and migrants in 2015 and the bloc worried what would happen if Turkey opened its borders. Mr Erdogan made specific reference to Turkey's main border crossing with E.U. member Bulgaria.

MEPs voted 479 in favour of halting long-term membership talks with Ankara at a plenary session in Strasbourg on Thursday amid concerns about the brutal crackdown on political dissidents since a failed coup in July.

Read more: Syrian warplanes strike Turkish troops: media suspect Russia of revenge for downed Su-24

The talks were part of a wide-ranging deal agreed with Mr Erdogan's government which meant Turkey would shelter the thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria in exchange for aid, membership talks and visa-free travel for its citizens.

The deal - struck in March - means that for every refugee arriving in Europe who is repatriated back to Turkey, E.U. countries will resettle another from Turkish refugee camps in a "one in, one out" system.

The accord has largely been successful in reducing numbers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), just over 171,000 have crossed to Greece so far this year, much lower than the comparable figure for 2015 of almost 740,000.

However while the number of refugees attempting boat journeys across the Aegean Sea has slowed to a trickle, thousands have continued to cross the Mediterranean from Libya.

Read more: Three Turkish troopers killed in Syria airstrike, Turkey promises retaliation

The controversial agreement was designed to ease the pressure on European political leaders after they began to be seen as powerless to control their own borders.

 
 
 
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