European leaders warned Macrons summit should not allow Putin back

Putin to lose 15,000 troops as army forced into humiliating retreat

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Ahead of the summit, EPP leader Manfred Weber urged leaders not to fall into Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trap of allowing Vladimir Putin to join the European community table “through the backdoor”. Erdogan is attending the founding summit of the “European Political Community” on Thursday in Prague, alongside 43 European leaders.

But the EU politician and EPP leader Manfred Weber does not believe the Turkish President is on Europe’s side.

In a warning to his EU allies, Mr Weber told BILD: “If Erdogan comes to the summit in Prague this week, then the EU must speak clearly to him.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that Erdogan wants to increase the military presence in the occupied part of Cyprus and constantly threatens the territorial integrity of Greece.

“This is not only unacceptable behaviour between NATO partners, but also a reality check for Erdogan’s alleged EU membership ambitions.”

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Mr Weber added: “Putin must not come back to the European table through the back door.”

President Macron and Chancellor Scholz should “not allow any ambiguity regarding support for Ukraine and the future of the EU” at the meeting, he claimed. Rather, the time had come for clarity towards Turkey.

“EU membership has long been off the table,” he stressed.

The warning comes as Greece said on Monday it would welcome any Turkish request for a meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Turkish leader on the sidelines of the European summit in Prague.

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Long-simmering tensions between the two countries, which are North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies but historic foes, have flared anew recently with both countries accusing each other of treaty violations and provocations.

Mr Erdogan has accused Greece of “crimes against humanity”, referring to its treatment of migrants, and of occupying islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status. Athens says Ankara is challenging Greek sovereignty over the islands and is exploiting the migration issue, and it has accused Erdogan of “inflammatory” statements.

“If the Turkish president… seeks such a meeting, the Greek side will evaluate it and respond positively,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told reporters.

Mr Mitsotakis has said that the last thing the region needs amid the war in Ukraine is another source of tension between Greece and Turkey.

Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over a range of issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, overflights in the Aegean Sea and divided Cyprus.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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