Turkey threatens to back away from refugee deal with EU

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Turkey threatens to back away from refugee deal with EU

Turkey’s foreign minister has threatened to pull the plug on the agreement if Turkish citizens are not granted visa-free travel to the European Union as promised. Yet Germany argues the responsibility lies with Turkey.

CCTV’s Natalie Carney reports.

Follow Natalie Carney on Twitter @NatalieCarney77

Turkey threatens to back away from refugee deal with EU

Turkey threatens to back away from refugee deal with EU

Turkey's foreign minister has threatened to pull the plug on the agreement if Turkish citizens are not granted visa free travel to the EU as promised. Yet Germany argues that the responsibility lies with Turkey. CCTV’s Natalie Carney reports.
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Turkey and the EU are at a crossroads. The EU has lashed out at Ankara’s purge of tens of thousands of individuals in the wake of the attempted coup last month. Turkey has blasted the EU for not upholding its end of a controversial refugee deal, struck in the spring, which cleared Turkey to receive concessions for stopping the flow of migrants leaving its shores for Europe.

“In this respect there are clear conditions, of which Turkey has still not fulfilled five and therefore the EU can’t decide on the issue of visa liberalization at this point. Turkey still has to do some work and whether they will do this or not under the current conditions, remains to be seen,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. 

A reopening of EU accession talks is also part of the agreement. Yet according to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Turkey is in no position now to join the union.

Some Turkish analysts, however, said accession to the EU may no longer be the powerful bargaining chip it was pre-coup.

“It was a coup, but under that coup it was a terrorist attack, to the capitol city, to the parliament, to the major areas of Turkey,” Ogur Demir, director of EU Research Center at Istanbul Commerce University, said. “And we expect Europe to make more sympathy with the Turkish society and the Turkish government, but so far we couldn’t see that. Now the Turkish people are more questioning the values of the European Union.”

Concern is growing over how these tensions will affect the already fragile refugee agreement, which bought about a dramatic decrease in crossings and deaths.

While the threat to drop the deal lingers, Greece has already sounded the alarm. According to the Greek government, the islands have been seeing a significant influx of refugees arriving on its islands since the coup on July 15.

Aid organizations and Greek authorities are calling for immediate action to curb the number of arrivals. Athens said more than 9,000 men, women and children have been registered on the islands in the last two week alone.

With the Middle East still in peril, Turkish borders compromised by the 10,000 military post-coup vacancies and the weather ideal for crossing waters, conditions may be right for the number of refugees heading for Europe to spike again.