Austria says EU does not need Turkey to cope with migrants
ISTANBULThe European Union does not need Turkey to cope with the migrant crisis, which paralyzed the bloc in 2015 after more than 1 million migrants flocked to the EU, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has said, adding that what the EU needed was a “real Plan A.”
“We must not give in to blackmail and therefore do not need a plan B. We at last need a proper plan A,” Kurz told Focus Online on Aug. 15, adding that Turkey was trying to target the EU with an ultimatum for the visa liberalization process.
“If we take the necessary action, we do not need a plan B, so no deal with Turkey,” he added.
Relations between Turkey and the EU have been strained since Brussels pressured Turkey to change its anti-terror law, one of the 72 criteria Turkey needs to fulfill in exchange for Turkish citizens to be granted visa-free travel inside the EU’s Schengen zone. This exchange was reached within the scope of a migrant deal between the sides, in which Turkey would help curb the migrant influx into the bloc in exchange for accelerated membership talks, EU funding for Syrians in Turkey, and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.
Strained relations have gotten even worse after failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. Turkey accuses the EU and the West of not giving enough support to the Turkish government after the coup attempt was overcome and being more concerned about the crackdown in the aftermath.
Kurz and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu have been in a war of words since last week, when the former suggested that Ankara’s EU membership bid should not proceed and the latter responded that Turkey would halt the migrant deal if Turkey’s visa-free demand is not met.
“I do not know if the deal will be officially terminated. But what we are experiencing now are threats and the attempt by Turkey to provide us with an ultimatum for visa liberalization,” Kurz told Focus Online.
He added said that the EU should learn from countries such as Spain and Australia, “which have managed to stem refugee flows.”
He said the “essential point” was that people should be stopped at the external border and the rescue of the Mediterranean should no longer be associated with a ticket to Central Europe.
“Europe is strong and independent enough to protect its external borders. If we take the necessary action, it does not need to have a plan B,” Kurz added.