Monday

23rd Apr 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.

France tightens immigration law, sparking division

French lawmakers are cracking down on asylum seekers in a bid to send those rejected back home. Controversial measures they passed over the weekend will now be debated in the French senate in June.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  2. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  3. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  4. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  5. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  6. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  7. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  8. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights