New talks required if migrant deal delayed to 2017: Turkish official
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
AA photoIf a migrant deal between Turkey and the European Union is not enacted in 2016, then the current agreement between the two will need to be renegotiated, a Turkish official has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey still aims to implement the deal in October, the previously announced deadline, the official added.
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. The EU is concerned that Ankara is applying its anti-terrorism laws too broadly in order to prosecute critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and has made easing them a precondition for granting Turks visa-free travel to the bloc.
Ankara proposed a formula under which the Council of Europe would monitor Turkey’s anti-terror law.
The EU does not object to Turkey’s proposal, and talks between Ankara and Brussels are ongoing regarding the monitoring by the CoE, the official said.
If the EU agrees to an interim formula on the anti-terror law, which Turkey refused to alter due to current security challenges, the full implementation of the deal would naturally be delayed until the end of the year since Turkey has not begun using new biometric passports, which is another criteria for visa liberalization, another Turkish official said.
“The work done within the Council of Europe can serve as a valuable…baseline for a final solution” on visa liberalization, Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for enlargement, said during a visit to Ankara in September.