Turkey tells EU Give us visafree travel by end of 2016 but we WON”T change terror law


Ankara agreed to stop illegal migrants from crossing into Greece back in March but in return demanded financial aid for refugees that stayed there, accelerated EU membership talks and the promise of visa-free travel across most of the bloc”s 28 member states.

Under the so-called “one-in-one-out deal” migrants arriving in Greece are sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or their claim is rejected. For each person sent back, the EU accepts a genuine refugee from Turkey.

But the agreement, negotiated by German leader Angela Merkel, is now in jeopardy because Turkey”s refusal to revise its anti-terror laws, which Brussels insists are not compatible with European justice standards, has led to deadlock over the visa liberalisation part of the deal.

And officials in Recep Tayyip Erdo?an”s government are entering into a war of words with their EU counterparts.

Turkey”s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik accused Brussels of breaking its promises.

He said: “Forcing this despite the situation is putting a roadblock in front of the visa liberalisation and therefore we will assume they aren”t keeping the promises they made.

“In that case we won”t carry out the readmission deal and we will cancel it if necessary.”

Mr Celik said Turkey had been keeping its promises with illegal migrant arrivals from Turkish shores to Greece dropping to just 20 or 30 people a day from a peak of 7,000 in 2015.

He also said mass suspensions of public servants in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15 had caused no institutional weakness in terms of Turkey”s relations with the EU.

Gerald Knaus, director of the European Stability Initiative who was involved in the negotiations said: “A failure of the deal would have serious consequences for Greece and would be a problem for the Western Balkans.

“But it would also be a problem for Merkel, the Dutch and others who face election campaigns next year.”

“Europeans often debate this subject on an emotional level without considering what the next step will be.