Turkey Sets Ultimatum for EU Migrant Deal

“Erdoğan is openly pursuing the Islamization of Europe”

by Soeren Kern
August 2, 2016

Turkey has threatened to back out of an agreement to stem the flow of migrants to the European Union if Turkish nationals are not granted visa-free travel to the bloc by October.

Although Turkish officials have repeatedly threatened to renege on the March 18 EU-Turkey deal, this is the first time they have set a deadline.

If the EU approves the visa waiver, tens of millions of Turks will gain immediate and unimpeded access to 26 European countries. If the EU rejects the visa waiver, and Turkey retaliates by reopening the migration floodgates, potentially millions of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East could begin flowing into Greece this fall. Europe is trapped in a no-win situation.

The migration deal, which entered into force on June 1, was hastily negotiated by European leaders desperate to gain control over a crisis in which more than one million migrants poured into Europe in 2015.

Under the agreement, the EU pledged to pay Turkey €3 billion ($3.4 billion), grant visa-free travel to Europe for Turkey’s 78 million citizens, and restart accession talks for Turkey to join the bloc. In exchange, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants and refugees who reach Greece via Turkey.

Turkish officials have repeatedly accused the EU of failing to keep its end of the bargain.

In a July 25 interview with the German television broadcaster ARD, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey had so far received only €2 million of the promised €3 billion: “European leaders are dishonest,” he said. “We have stood by our promise. But have the Europeans kept theirs?”

The EU insists that the €3 billion must be transferred through the United Nations and other international aid agencies in accordance with strict rules on how the money can be spent: “Funding under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey supports refugees in the country,” the EU said in a statement. “It is funding for refugees and not funding for Turkey.”

In a July 31 interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu stressed that the Turkish government wants the EU to set a “specific deadline” for lifting the visa requirements: “It can be early or mid-October but we are waiting for an exact date,” he said.

Cavusoglu said that his words are “not a threat,” but added that “if there is no lifting of the visa restrictions, we will be forced to abandon the agreement struck on March 18.”

Read more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8613/turkey-eu-migrant-deal

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