Czech President Milos Zeman has voiced opposition to Turkey‘s bid to become a member of the European Union, saying that although Turkey is a NATO member, it sometimes acts as if it is an ally of the radical terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Czech news agency reported.
In his remarks made at the end of his three-day visit to north Bohemia on Wednesday, Zeman reportedly criticized the EU’s recent offering to Turkey of 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in financial aid in exchange for keeping Syrian refugees on its soil.
“The Roman Empire, before it collapsed, too, paid tribute money to barbarians [for them not to pilfer its territory],” Zeman was quoted by the Czech news agency as saying.
Zeman argued that Turkey is able to accept Syrian refugees because both Turkish and Syrian nations share the same religion. “The danger does not rest in Islam as such but in transferring these [Muslim] habits to Europe,” he reportedly said.
The Czech leader also said that Turkey must be approached with “caution.”
The EU recently offered Turkey 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in financial aid to keep Syrian refugees on its soil in return for accelerated EU accession talks and speeded-up visa liberalization for Turks visiting Europe.