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EU, Erdoğan threatens to abandon migrant deal
© R4BIA.com

Erdoğan threatens to abandon migrant deal

17/03/17Government

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to abandon a key migrant deal with the EU.

He said the EU could “forget about” Turkey re-admitting failed asylum seekers who had reached Europe via Turkey, a key part of the agreement.

Erdoğan also said the EU’s top court was leading a “crusade” against Islam.

His comments are the latest in an increasingly hostile dispute with EU governments and institutions.

The Turkish government has been infuriated by Germany, the Netherlands and other nations’ decisions to block its officials from holding political rallies in those countries.

The EU has criticised the referendum, saying it would concentrate too much power in the president’s hands.

The migrant deal, signed in March 2016, saw Turkey promise aid, visa-free travel for its nationals and accelerated EU membership talks in return for its help in reducing the flow of migrants crossing to Europe.

The number of migrants reaching Greece by sea reduced after the deal was reached, and Turkey’s continued co-operation with the EU was regarded as crucial in managing the mass arrival of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

Erdoğan said the EU had broken its promise of granting visa-free travel to Turks.

He added: “Now they say re-admission. What re-admission? Forget about it.

“You don’t let my minister into the Netherlands. You revoke the landing rights of my foreign minister. You prevent [us] holding meetings at the General Consulate building, which is my land. But after that you’d expect us to do this [re-admit migrants]. That’s not going to happen.”

On 15 March Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey could immediately stop implementing the agreement if it wanted to.

The EU Commission has said that it expects Turkey to comply with its commitments under the accord.