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Juncker defends relations with ‘odious regimes’ like Saudi Arabia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, holds his 7th Europe speech “The State of Europe“ on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2016 in Berlin. (Photo by AFP)

The European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker has stressed the importance of having relations with “odious regimes” such as Saudi Arabia.

Juncker made the remarks during an interview with Euronews in response to a question over why the EU still has relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.    

“We, the European Union, have links with regimes that are odious. And nobody asks us about it. Everybody’s worried about Turkey, but nobody’s talking about Saudi Arabia,” RT quoted him as saying on Saturday.

He added that his position in the EU makes it necessary for him to keep relations with a diverse range of people “even those, whose company I don’t appreciate much.”

“We have relations with all dictatorships because we need to organize, to co-organize the world,” he added.

While noting that he has known Erdogan for 18 years, he stressed that the EU is in no position to lecture Turkey on how to deal with refugees.

"Turkey is an important partner not only for the migration crisis. This aspect is obvious. But because it houses on its territory over three million migrants and refugees which Europe for its part doesn't do,” he said.

On Thursday, the European Parliament voted in favor of a freeze of membership talks with Turkey over Ankara’s post-coup crackdown.

Following the failed coup, Turkey detained or dismissed over 125,000 people over their alleged backing for the putsch. Much to the anger of Ankara, Western countries see the crackdown as an attempt to crush all dissent.

Turkey has been attempting to become part of the EU since the 1960s. Formal EU accession negotiations began in 2005. But the process has been mired in problems, and only 16 chapters of the 35-chapter accession procedure have been opened for Ankara so far.

The coup began when a faction of the military declared it was in control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. Tanks, helicopters, and soldiers clashed with police and people on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. Between 200 and 300 people were killed on all sides in the attempted coup d’état.

In reaction to the EU’s move, Erdogan warned that his country would open its borders and permit refugees entry to Europe. “We are the ones who feed 3-3.5 million refugees in this country. You have betrayed your promises. If you go any further those border gates will be opened,” he said.

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