Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Turkey threatens to scrap refugee deal, again

  • Migrants leaving the Greek island of Lesbos on the day the EU-Turkey refugee deal was implemented, in April. (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey said on Thursday (25 August) that EU accession remained its "strategic aim”, but threatened, once again, to scrap the migrant deal with the EU if it does not quickly get visa liberalisation.

The two-sided message came a day after EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn asked Ankara to respect the rule of law in its post-putsch crackdown if it wanted to join the bloc.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Germany's Europe minister Michael Roth: 'Critical questions are posed in Europe.' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

"The EU is still a strategic aim for us. There is no change," Turkish foreign affairs minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Ankara in an apparent response.

He added that, for now, EU-Turkey relations were centred on three issues: Turkey’s agreement to take back irregular migrants from Greece; the EU’s agreement to resettle refugees from Turkey; and the visa-free process.

In March, as part of the migration deals, the EU said a visa-free regime would be granted by the end of June if Turkey met 72 criteria.

The deadline was then pushed back to October because the Turkish government has so far refused to change a law on terrorism which, the EU says, contains loose language that is used to silence government-critical media and academics.

'Not fair'

Cavusoglu said on Thursday that "these agreements are connected to each other".

"We all should implement all three of these agreements. It is not right to say: 'Let's implement the deal that favours the EU, but not the one favourable to Turkey'. It is not fair," he said during a press conference with his Polish and Romanian counterparts, Witold Waszczykowski and Lazar Comanescu.

The European Commission is due to publish a report on Turkey’s implementation of the visa liberalisation criteria in September.

If there is no change in the Turkish counter-terrorism legislation, it will be difficult for the EU to grant the visa-free regime.

The same day, also in Ankara, Turkey’s Europe minister and the chief negotiator for his country’s EU accession, Omer Celik, added that Ankara expected a specific date for getting the visa-free perks.

"Unless a date is given for visa-free travel, we will not implement new mechanisms, such as the readmission deal," he said prior to a meeting with Germany’s Europe minister Michael Roth.

Roth, whose country was the main architect of the EU-Turkey migration accords, said that Turks and Europeans "need to carry out this agreement step by step in cooperation”.

European values

In an interview with Turkish daily Hurriyet before the meeting, Roth also said that "conditions to be fulfilled for the visa exemption have been definite for a long time" and that the “last remaining issues must be resolved".

He also said that Germany would not "accept any halt in EU negotiations," as suggested by Austria, because he felt "responsible to those who defend European values in Turkey".

"Critical questions are posed in Europe. That should be understood," he said, referring to concerns about the scale of the post-coup crackdown on judges, civil servants, journalists and academics.

European critics of the crackdown were dismissed by the foreign minister, Cavusoglu, however, who accused some EU member states of having "failed to pass the test when it comes to defending democracy" in their own countries.

Turkey struggling to cope with refugees

Children out of school and vulnerable to radicalisation, asylum claimants pushed back from Greece, and refugees forbidden from entering from Syria - a new report paints a bleak picture of the situation in Turkey.

Turkey pledges loyalty to EU and Nato

Turkey’s foreign minister has said that its rapprochement with Russia does not mean Ankara will turn away from Nato or the EU.

Turkey purge intensifies, amid EU visa demands

Ankara has refused to amend its terror laws in line with EU preconditions for a visa-waiver pact, but Turkey says it will scrap its migrant deal with the EU if visas are not lifted.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  2. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets
  3. Belarus vote: zero opposition candidates elected
  4. Germany: Tehran should hold dialogue with protesters
  5. US ex-diplomat: Trump's 'historical mistake' on EU
  6. France's MoDem finance director indicted on EP funds
  7. Cyprus hopes for reunification talks in December
  8. Russian link to €406m crypto disappearance

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Von der Leyen commission on track for December start
  2. Ukraine boats added to EU-Russia summit preparations
  3. Migrants in Malmo - separating fact from fiction
  4. Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?
  5. European beekeeping in crisis
  6. France unveils new model EU enlargement
  7. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  8. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us