Turkey's president needs a thicker skin against criticism, a senior EU official suggested as European leaders try to shore up support at home for their deal with Ankara to hold back migrants.
Former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, who chairs EU summits, was visiting a refugee camp at Gaziantep near the Syrian border on Saturday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and was asked about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's legal moves against critical media, including a German comedian.Tusk said press freedom was a "permanent topic" of his talks with Turkish leaders which have produced the deal under which Turkey is taking back all refugees and migrants who reach Greek islands in return for concessions from the European Union.
Recalling his own jailing in the 1980s for opposing Poland's communist government, Tusk recalled that Erdogan, too, had been imprisoned in 1999 for criticising Turkey's then rulers.
"Thirty years ago, I was imprisoned for being critical of the regime," Tusk said late on Saturday. "My good friend, President Erdogan, 15 years later also had a similar experience for expressing his views."