EU on diplomatic push to get migrant deal with Turkey into gear

EU on diplomatic push to get migrant deal with Turkey into gear

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
EU on diplomatic push to get migrant deal with Turkey into gear

AA photo

EU officials have begun to visit the Turkish capital of Ankara with increased frequency in an effort repair the recent damage in ties, which became strained after the July 15 failed coup attempt and the process of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens to the bloc stalled.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is set to travel to Turkey on Sept. 9, as the EU pushes to keep its migrant deal with Ankara back on track. Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for enlargement, will attend a High-Level Political Dialogue meeting between the EU and Turkey in Ankara. 

The EU’s stance following the July 15 failed coup attempt, visa liberalization, negotiations between the union and Turkey for the latter’s EU membership and Cyprus talks will be on the agenda of the meeting, according to sources.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently warned that Turkey’s migration agreement with the EU may collapse if the union did not keep its side of the deal on visa waivers.

“If our demands are not satisfied, then readmissions [of migrants] will no longer be possible,” Erdoğan said. 

In a March deal, Ankara agreed to stop migrants from crossing into Greece in exchange for financial aid for migrants, the promise of visa-free travel to much of the EU and accelerated membership talks.

However, the reciprocal visa-free access has been delayed due to a dispute over Turkey’s strict anti-terrorism laws, which the EU said must be eased before any agreement can be made.

But after meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz last week, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım made it clear that Ankara would make no change to the laws, further putting the migrant deal into question.

Yet, Brussels and Ankara are in talks to prevent putting the migrant deal in jeopardy, EU sources told Hürriyet Daily News. 

Turkey reportedly accepted delaying the visa liberalization to the end of the year, instead of the previously announced Oct. 1. 

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will pay a visit to Strasbourg on Sept. 7 for the meeting of ministers’ deputies aiming to hold an exchange of views. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Ankara on Sept. 9.

In the meantime, Erdoğan held a quartet meeting with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the sidelines of G-20 Summit in China.