(Vatican Radio) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to tear up a controversial migrant deal with the European Union that was aimed at halting the influx into Europe of people fleeing war and poverty. Hungary has used the controversy to raise support for its decision to build fences and a new law to detain all asylum seekers, including children.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:
Turkey's hardline President Erdogan says the European Union "can forget" about Turkey re-admitting failed asylum seekers who have reached Europe via Turkey.
It is a key part of an agreement with the EU after more than a million often desperate migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea in 2015, with thousands feared drowned.
Turkey's president also says that the EU's top court is leading a "crusade" against Islam.
His comments come at a time when Ankara has been enraged by the Netherlands, Germany and other nations' decisions to block its ministers from holding political rallies in those countries.
They wanted to campaign among Turkish immigrants for a yes vote in a referendum on extending the powers of Erdogan, despite international concerns over the massive arrests of journalists and political opponents as well as the dismissal of some 100,000 public servants for allegedly backing last year's coup attempt.
Erdogan even compared the Netherlands and Germany to the Nazis of World War Two. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker condemned those remarks when speaking in the European Parliament, recalling how his family and country Luxembourg suffered under the Nazi-regime. "I was scandalized by what was said coming from Turkey, on the Netherlands, on Germany, and on others. I will never accept this comparison between the Nazis and the now (today’s) governments,” he told the parliamentary session in Strasbourg, France.
“This is totally unacceptable, and the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe, and not trying to enter the European Union. The European Union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the European Union,” Juncker added.
Yet, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó says Turkey's threat to scrap the migration deal showed what he calls the EU's "unreasonable and failed" policies and that it was wrong to base Europe's long-term security exclusively on the agreement.
Hungary's president has now signed a disputed law allowing all asylum-seekers, including children older than 14, to be detained in border container camps, while border hunters and other special forces patrol border fences. President János Áder signed the bill on Wednesday, a national holiday in memory of Hungary's 1848 revolution against the Habsburg empire.