German politicians say Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the EU very dependent on Turkey in dealing with the refugee crisis, accusing her of having exposed the bloc to blackmail by Ankara.
The EU is in a standoff with Turkey on the future of an agreement signed in March.
Under the deal, Turkey has committed to taking back all the asylum seekers and refugees, who had 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.
Brussels now insists Turkey must meets 72 criteria, notably to overhaul its anti-terror law, if it wants a visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe
’s borderless Schengen zone.
Turkey, however, refuses to bow to the demands, saying without visa liberalization, there will be no deal and that the bloc must find a “new formula” to save the agreement.
Carsten Schneider, the deputy chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s junior coalition partner, accused the chancellor of making Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan central to her refugee policy.
He warned that if Erdogan stopped cooperating, “the extent of Germany
’s isolation in Europe will become clear again.”
Carsten Schneider, the deputy chairman of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD).
Merkel, who is due to attend the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkish city of Istanbul next week, reportedly plans for bilateral talks with other leaders in attendance to salvage the agreement.
“I’m not against talks with Turkey, but I think it’s dangerous to become so dependent on Ankara,” said Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU).
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, however, said Turkey is still the key country for refugee influx to Europe.
Last year, over a million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.
Europe is now concerned that the continent would face another refugee influx after Erdogan warned that Turkey would allow the refugees to enter Europe if it failed to meet its commitments.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are still fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.