The EU wants to “have a contract of mutual confidence that is necessary, given the central role Turkey has played in the refugee crisis”, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
While Slovakia has made clear it will only accept Christian refugees and not Muslims, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban has described the influx of refugees as a threat to Europe’s “Christian roots” and responded to the crisis by erecting a fence on its southern border with Serbia.
The BBC’s Istanbul correspondent, Mark Lowen reports.
With Turkey having spent $7.5 billion on sheltering refugees since the start of the conflict in Syria, Erdogan said his country had only received $417 million in foreign aid.
“Right now, we have 2.5 million refugees in our country“.
“The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to Europe via Turkey must be stopped. One is to focus on training and equipment, the second one is to declare a safe zone that would be protected from terrorism and the third is a no-fly zone”, Erdogan said. Speaking after meeting Mr Tusk, Mr Erdogan anticipated questions about his attacks on the Kurdish separatist group PKK – which is also fighting Isis – insisting that both were terrorist groups.
Erdoğan first met with Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the royal palace, and held meetings with Martin Schulz, the head of the European Commission, and Donald Tusk, the president of the Council of Europe (CoE).
But for Mr Tusk, the priority was for Ankara to do more to stop the boats carrying thousands of refugees daily across sea lanes between Turkey’s Aegean coast and the Greek islands. ‘Oh my, don’t open your doors, don’t let them reach us.
But a senior European Union official involved in negotiations with Turkey said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung report, which detailed six new refugee camps for two million people, was “not in line with what we have been discussing”.
Erdogan, preparing for November. 1 parliamentary elections, boasted of Turkey’s record in taking 2 million refugees from neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and contrasted it with the numbers passing through the bloc, in speeches to supporters.
Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said 630,000 people had entered the bloc illegally this year and called for 775 extra border guards to be deployed at the EU’s external borders.
Outside the European Union it may be, but Turkey has a key role on its eastern borders.
“We have to respect commonly agreed rules”, he said, adding that when countries say they intend to flout the laws “they undermine the essence of solidarity and our community”.