Tur­key threat­ens to scrap EU refugee deal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

TUR­KEY has once again threat­ened to scrap a refugee deal it has struck with the Euro­pean Union (EU) un­less the bloc grants visa-free en­try into Europe to Turk­ish cit­i­zens by Oc­to­ber.

Speak­ing in an in­ter­view with the Ger­man Bild news­pa­per, which was pub­lished yes­ter­day, Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu im­plied that hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees in Tur­key would be al­lowed into Europe if Turks were de­nied free­visa travel by Oc­to­ber.

“I don’t want to talk about the worst case sce­nario — talks with the EU are con­tin­u­ing — but it’s clear that we ei­ther ap­ply all treaties at the same time or we put them all aside,” Cavu­soglu said.

“It can’t be that we im­ple­ment every­thing that is good for the EU but that Tur­key gets noth­ing in re­turn,” he added.

The agree­ment that Tur­key is threat­en­ing to scrap was signed in March. Un­der the deal, Tur­key has com­mit­ted to tak­ing back all the asy­lum seek­ers and refugees who have used the Aegean Sea to il­le­gally reach Greece. In re­turn, Ankara has been promised a num­ber of things, in­clud­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tion of visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion talks but not visa-free travel it­self — at least not yet.

Tur­key has been ne­go­ti­at­ing a sub-deal to ob­tain that priv­i­lege for Turks.

Ef­forts to reach that deal, how­ever, have been ham­pered by Tur­key’s re­fusal to re­vise its an­titer­ror­ism laws, which the EU says are too broad, as well as a Turk­ish gov­ern­ment crack­down fol­low­ing a failed coup.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner Guen­ther Oet­tinger has re­cently ruled out grant­ing visa-free travel for Turks this year be­cause of Ankara’s crack­down on coup sus­pects.

So far, over 60,000 peo­ple in the Turk­ish mil­i­tary, ju­di­ciary, civil ser­vices and schools have been de­tained, dis­missed or sus­pended over sus­pected links with US-based op­po­si­tion cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the botched coup.

An­swer­ing a ques­tion about whether Ankara would leave Nato, Cavu­soglu told the Ger­man daily that his coun­try would re­main a mem­ber in the mil­i­tary al­liance, at­tribut­ing the re­cent ru­mours about quit­ting Nato to what he called anti-Tur­key groups. He did men­tion a num­ber of caveats, how­ever. “It’s clear that we also need to co­op­er­ate with other part­ners on buy­ing and sell­ing weapon sys­tems be­cause some Nato part­ners refuse to al­low us to sell air de­fence sys­tems for ex­am­ple or to ex­change in­for­ma­tion,” the top Turk­ish diplo­mat said. — PressTV

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu

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