Turkey is prepared to “open the gates” and allow hundreds of thousands of refugees on its soil into Europe, the country’s president threatened on Thursday, as he denounced the West’s ‘shameful’ contribution to the crisis.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan goaded EU leaders, saying they had not delivered the €3 billion (£2.3 billion) in aid his government was promised in exchange for halting the tide of refugees.
In a combative address in Ankara, he said the Turkish government was being taken for “idiots” by Brussels and insisted he was “proud” of leak minutes of a high-level meeting with EU leaders, in which he had threatened to flood Europe with refugees.
It came as Nato deployed a taskforce of battleships to the Greek coast to collect intelligence and, for the first time, return any stranded refugee vessels they intercept directly back Turkey. Royal Navy vessels could join the force, the Defence Secretary indicated.