Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

Merkel in Turkey to salvage migrant deal

  • Merkel (l) on her most recent trip to Turkey last month to visit refugee camps (Photo: The European Union.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will not shy away from controversial issues when she meets Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan later, amid criticism the German leader has made too many concessions to save the EU-Turkey migration deal.

Ahead of a two-day trip to Istanbul to attend a UN refugee summit with 50 other representatives and heads of state, Merkel rejected accusations in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the EU has become too dependent on Turkey because of the migration deal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“Of course there are mutual dependencies, which you could also call a necessity to reconcile interests,” Merkel said.

Merkel has championed the deal that allows Greece to send back migrants to Turkey, despite concerns over Turkey's rights record and treatment of refugees.

Erdogan has used the deal to shore up his power at home, and used it as a bargaining chip with Europe. He has threatened to scrap the deal if Turkey does not get visa liberalisation from the EU.

On her fifth visit to Turkey in eight months, Merkel is trying to strike a balance between protecting the deal and avoiding being seen as accommodating too much to Erdogan’s whims.

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interview, the German chancellor criticised the Turkish parliament’s vote on Friday to deprive almost all of the MPs from the main pro-Kurdish of their legal immunity.

The move paves the way for Turkey to put many of its leading Kurdish politicians on trial.

“We want that the Kurdish people have their equal place and a good future in Turkey,” Merkel said, adding she would raise “all the important questions” with Erdogan.

She also criticised the breakdown of talks between the government and the Kurdish community last year.

Pushing Turkey's membership bid

Merkel also remains under pressure at home because of the deal.

She was criticised last month for allowing the prosecution of a German comedian who made fun of Erdogan after a complaint from the Turkish leader.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, the sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said Sunday that the pact had “mixed up things that have nothing to do with each other” by linking the refugee issue with Turkey’s bid to join the EU and visa-free travel.

“One should never allow oneself to be blackmailed,” Seehofer said.

In the interview, Merkel stood by the deal, saying: “I am convinced that it’s in German, European and Turkish interests, and especially in the interests of those who are fleeing war and persecution.”

She added she is irritated by what seems like some people almost looking forward to the deal failing.

The visit comes as one of Erdogan’s closest allies, Binali Yildirim, was officialy appointed prime minister on Sunday after he was elected chairman of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).

In his first speech Yildirim said the time has come for the EU to be clear about Turkey’s membership process.

“The time has come to know what they think about Turkey,” he said.

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.

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.

EU defends Turkey deal in light of Greek court ruling

The EU Commission on Monday fended off suggestions a decision by a Greek apeals court not to send back a Syrian aslyum seeker to Turkey, because it is not safe, doesn not endanger the EU-Turkey deal.

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.

Opinion

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  2. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  3. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  4. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  5. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  6. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  7. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  8. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us