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DIPLOMACY >Turkish FM hints abolishing migrant deal

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Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has hinted that if the European Union does not grant a visa exemption to Turkish citizens, the migration agreement struck last year between Turkey and the EU could be abolished.

“We see that the European Union has been stalling us. But our patience is not unlimited. Our citizens also have expectations. If visa liberation does not come, we will take steps regarding the migration deal,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on March 14. 

He said Turkey has so far met the requirements of the migrant deal, calling on the EU to “not stall,” otherwise Ankara “will take necessary measures.”
 
Çavuşoğlu also suggested that the EU was on the “verge of falling apart.” 

“The situation that Europe has fallen into is really driving us to worry. Gradually they are going off a cliff, like the period before the Second World War. The European Union is falling apart,” he said.

On March 13, Turkish EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik also said Ankara “should re-evaluate” a key part of a 2016 deal to stem the flow of migrants to the EU.

Çelik said Turkey should look at its policy on preventing migrant flows across land borders, although it would keep halting the illegal and dangerous sea crossings as a matter of human responsibility, state media reported. 

“Turkey has no obligation at this stage to continue the agreement as the EU has failed to comply with it,” he added. 

Turkey agreed last year to work to keep migrants from crossing into the EU in return for funds to help it deal with some 3 million refugees. 

The deal included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country. However, Turkey has so far received only 677 million euros ($716 million), with Brussels citing demands that Ankara loosen its tough anti-terror legislation. The agreement also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.

March/14/2017

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