Turkey threatens to suspend EU deal over ‘double standards’ with visa-free travel
A Bulgarian border police officer stands near a new barbed wire fence at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey near the town of Malko Tarnovo on May 22, 2016. (AFP/Nikolay Doychinov)
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Turkey has threatened to suspend all agreements with the European Union (EU) if Brussels fails to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens.
“Let them continue to apply double standards, let them continue not to keep their promises for Turkish citizens, but they should know that if they maintain this attitude, Turkey will take some very radical decisions very soon,” said Yigit Bulut, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday.
Bulut warned that Ankara would review “all relations with the EU, including the customs union deals and the migrant readmission agreements.”
The EU is in a standoff with Turkey on the future of an agreement signed in March to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe.
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 was promised financial aid, the acceleration of visa liberalization talks and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
The two sides are currently negotiating a sub-deal under which Turkish nationals would be allowed visa-free travel to Europe.
Negotiations over the deal for visa-free travel have been faltering. Turkey reportedly refuses to make changes to its anti-terror laws, as required by the EU.
Turkey formerly set the end of June as a deadline for the 28-member bloc to scrap visas for Turkish citizens, but sources in the EU said it is nearly impossible to meet the deadline.
Concerns over the potential collapse of the deal with Turkey have reportedly prompted EU officials to consider a “plan B” — striking a similar deal with Greece, instead of Turkey.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria, and attempt entry into Europe without applying for a visa. The influx has crippled the bloc, particularly the countries on its external borders.
- EU: Visa-free travel for Turkey on hold without changes to anti-terrorism laws
- Turkish FM reiterates Turkey will not revise controversial ‘anti-terror’ laws
- Turkey again demands progress in EU visa-free travel
- Greece begins detaining refugees to send back to Turkey
- Turkish president threatens referendum on EU membership talks