Turkey threatens to suspend EU migrant deal due to lack of visa-free travelEuropost
The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has threatened that Turkey will suspend the migrant deal reached with the EU in 2016, until the latter decides to grant Turkish passport holders with visa-free access to the Schengen countries. During an interview with a Turkish medium earlier this week, Çavuşoğlu said that the migration agreement would be suspended, only to come into effect again when a visa liberalization agreement is reached with the EU.
“We will not wait at the EU’s door. The readmission agreement and visa-free deal will be put into effect at the same time,” he said.
The EU signed the readmission deal on migration with Turkey in 2016 as a solution to the number of migrants that flooded Europe at the time, using Turkey as their main route. Aside from roughly six billion euros that the EU allocated to Turkey, the block also agreed to lessen visa restrictions for Turkish citizens.
Natasha Bertaud, deputy chief spokesperson for the European Commission responded to Çavuşoğlu’s comments during a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday, only by saying that the two sides are still committed to implementing the so-called “joint statement.” She reiterated that the enforcement of the EU-Turkey deal remains a condition for visa liberalization.
Only in May this year, during the sixth meeting of the Reform Action Group (RAG), the Turkish authorities had said that the country is fully committed to the objective of EU membership,
According to a press release of the Foreign Ministry, issued at the time, Turkey decisively continues its efforts for alignment with the EU standards.
“The finalisation of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue process, which will allow our citizens to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, is our first priority. In this framework, it has been agreed to accelerate the process of fulfilling remaining benchmarks in this meeting. We have clarified the steps to be taken in the forthcoming period to finalize the Visa Liberalization Dialogue, which will benefit our citizens in many areas, including economy,” the press release read.
The European Union launched the visa liberalisation process with Turkey in December 2013. The dialogue was based on a roadmap containing 72 requirements. Since then, the EU commission adopted three reports on Turkey’s progress on fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalization roadmap.
According to an EU report published last year, one of the obstacles in Turkey’s road to reaching visa liberalisation is also the issue of Cyprus. The report suggested that Turkey would not be able to get visa liberalization, even if it has met all the other benchmarks, unless it recognizes the Republic of Cyprus as an independent country.