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Turkish Government Issues Ultimatum to EU Over Migrants, Visa-Free Travel

CC0 / Pixabay / Turkish and EU flags
Turkish and EU flags - Sputnik International
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has warned that he will tear up the controversial EU-Turkish migrant deal unless his citizens are given visa-free access to the EU in June, in a move which will put further pressure on European leaders.

Under the deal, migrants arriving in Greece after March 20 are being processed in 'hotspots' from where migrants deemed "irregular — not meeting the requirements for asylum — are dispatched back to Turkey in return — on a one-for-one basis — for a Syrian refugee being relocated from Turkey to EU member states.

The deal includes an agreement that all Turks will be allowed visa-free access to EU member states by June 2016.

Many relief agencies — including Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and Red Cross — have joined the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, in saying the EU-Turkey deal is either immoral or illegal as the 'hotspots' have become detention centers. They also say Turkey is not a 'safe country' for migrants to be returned to, under the Geneva Convention.

"Turkey is a serious interlocutor. It does what is has promised and will permit no concessions on the implementation of what it has been promised. This is a mutual commitment.

"If the EU cannot take the necessary steps required of it, then of course it cannot be expected of Turkey to take these steps. I maintain my belief that, God willing, we will have the visa exemption in June. In the absence of that, then of course no one can expect Turkey to adhere to its commitment," Davutoğlu said.

All Agreements Canceled Warning

His comments were echoed by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who said: 

"The deal we struck with the EU is very clear. We want this human tragedy to end, our citizens to travel visa-free, and the Customs Union to be updated."

Çavuşoğlu also added on April 18, in parliament, in response to opposition criticism over the government's Syria policies, which include the deal with the EU:

"If the EU doesn't keep its word, including the migrant deal, we will cancel all agreements."

In angry exchanges in the European Parliament last week, Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and the leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said: "[Turkish President] Mr Erdogan has said that he will call off the agreement that he has made with you if he has not — within two months — the visa liberalization he requested.

"It's clear that we have put ourselves in the hands of Erdogan and of his government. I have more and more the impression that Erdogan is using poor refugees as a political weapon. That is what is happening," he said.

UK Independence Party(UKIP) lawmaker Nigel Farage said: "All eyes are on this Turkish deal. And I think what we see is the bosses of the EU bowing and scraping before Mr Erdogan, who gleefully walks all over you, tramples over human rights at every level."

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