Friday

9th Dec 2022

Turkey threatens to scrap migrant deal with EU, again

  • Turkey wants visas lifted or it will allow migrants to pass into Greece (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Turkey has threatened to scrap a migrant swap deal with the EU unless it waives visas, amid a sudden upsurge of Aegean sea crossings into Greece.

Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country would no longer abide by the deal should the EU fail to lift short-term visa restrictions on Turks.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Up to 35,000 people, mostly Turks, rallied in German city of Cologne on Saturday to demonstrate their support of Erdogan. (Photo: orangejack)

"If visa liberalisation does not follow, we will be forced to back away from the deal on taking back [refugees] and the agreement of 18 March," he told Germany's daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung over the weekend.

Cavusoglu said the waivers should ideally be introduced in October.

Once granted, it would allow Turkish nationals to visit any of the passport-free Schengen states without a visa.

The March agreement was designed to stop migrants, mostly from Syria, from crossing from Turkey into Greece.

In exchange, Syrian refugees in Turkey are set to receive €3 billion in EU humanitarian aid. Both sides also agreed to speed up EU membership talks and allow Turks visa-free travel in Schengen countries.

Thousands were arriving on the Greek islands on a daily basis at the height of the crisis last year. Those numbers dropped to double figures following the March deal.

'Constant and apparently increasing flow'

But reports are emerging of an increase in crossings since last month's failed attempt to overthrow Turkey's autocratic president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greek authorities are raising the alarm over a “constant and apparently increasing flow” of people making the crossings.

Over 1,000 have crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands since the military coup attempt on 15 July.

The islands are now hosting some 9,400 men, women, and children who are seeking asylum - including eight Turkish soldiers.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is also worried.

He told an Austrian daily Kurier on Friday that the "risk is great" the agreement with Turkey would fail.

"The success of the pact so far is fragile. President Erdogan has several times hinted he wants to terminate the agreement,” he said.

The EU commission had in the wake of the coup said it would abide by the visa waiver plan.

Lifting the restriction would first require lawmakers in Ankara to rewrite an anti-terrorism law. The EU says the law's definition of terrorism is too broad and allows authorities to target journalists and opposition MPs.

Turkey's prime minister Binali Yıldırım in June said Ankara would not budge on the legislation.

"Amendments to the anti-terror law under these conditions are out of question for us, even if changes would lead to visa exemptions being granted,” he had said at the time.

Ankara continues purge

But the failed coup on 15 July has since seen tens of thousands people swept up in a government-led purge.

Charities, teachers, university deans, and top military brass among others have been forced to resign or detained.

Last week, Ankara announced it would shut down three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers and 15 magazines.

It also issued arrest warrants for 47 journalists and media executives.

Up to 35,000 people, mostly Turks, rallied in German city of Cologne on Saturday to demonstrate their support of Erdogan.

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.

EU won't budge on Turkey visa demands

Turkey must meet five more benchmarks before the EU will lift any visa restrictions. The demands have received short shrift from Ankara amid its post-coup crackdown.

Turkey recalls ambassador from Austria

Ankara reproaches Vienna for allowing a PKK demonstration but not anti-coup rallies. But the Austrian police said there is no ban on Turkish demonstrations.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  2. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  3. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  4. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  5. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  6. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  7. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  8. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us