Saturday

20th Jan 2018

Juncker warns Turkey over visas

Turkey will have to reform its anti-terrorism laws or the planned visa-free deal with the EU will fall apart, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Thursday (12 May), Juncker insisted that Ankara meet all EU 72 prerequisites before lifting short-stay travel restrictions on Turks.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We consider that it is important for these conditions to be fulfilled. Otherwise, this deal between the EU and Turkey will not happen," he said.

Turkey has met all but 5 of the 72 criteria. The EU commission wants Turkey to narrow the definition of its terrorism law.

"If Mr. Erdogan is pursuing a strategy of denying Turks the right to free travel to Europe then he has to answer for this to the Turkish people. This is not my problem, this will be his problem," Juncker said.

Despite the tough stand, an EU official in Brussels told reporters that the commission remained optimistic that Ankara will meet the outstanding issues before the end of June.

The EU wants to keep its migrant swap deal with Turkey in place given broader fears a large influx of migrants may arrive over the summer months.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel said the migrant deal still needed to be defended "despite all the difficulties involved to negotiate it".

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, has made repeated statements the anti-terrorism law won't be reformed given the recent surge in terrorist attacks.

Turkey's interior ministry on Wednesday said four suspected Kurdish rebels died in a blast when their explosives detonated prematurely.

Erdogan has also warned Ankara would scrap its migrant swap deal if visa waivers are not granted.

The original plan sought to lift the restrictions by the end of June but has now been pushed back to October at Erdogan's request.

Critics say the anti-terror law has an "overly broad" definition of terrorism and is used to jail journalists, academics and silence opposition.

Earlier this month, Erdogan ousted the pro-EU prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Constitution change, opposition muted

Fears are mounting he is putting in place an increasingly authoritarian regime with plans to amend the constitution, erode secularism in favour of political Islam, and lift immunity from opposition parliamentarians.

Next week plans are in place to amend the Turkish constitution with a temporary clause which could remove protection from prosecution from 129 of the Turkish Grand National Assembly's 550 deputies.

The change could affect lawmakers from all four parliamentary parties.

But critics say the change is targeted against MPs from the opposition parties, most notably against the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) where 46 out of 59 MPs would likely end up in jail.

The HDP represents groups like the the Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Assyrians, Yazidis, Alevies, and the Christians, among others.

The move could further inflame tensions with Turkey's largest minority, the Kurds.

Erdogan is 'No' joke

But Erdogan's sensitivity to overt criticism and satire is not limited to the home front.

In April, he pressured German chancellor Angela Merkel to allow authorities to launch an investigation against comedian Jan Boehmermann after he read an insulting poem.

He then pursued legal action against the CEO of German publishing house Axel Springer for defending Boehmermann.

The poem was then read aloud again on Wednesday in the German Bundestag to stunned onlookers by a MP from Merkel's own Christian Democratic Party (CDU).

EP stops work on Turkey visa waiver

The EU parliament has stopped all work on the commission's plan to lift visas for Turkish nationals. The move could spell the end of the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Why Erdogan made a U-turn on EU visas

Turkish leader Erdogan needs to look and act tough on terror to cement power at home. Former PM Davutoglu, who brokered the EU visa deal, also taken down a peg.

Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel

German chancellor after meeting with the Turkish president, said it was likely that conditions would not be met by 1 July as agreed in the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap