Turkey has warned of possible collapse of its agreement with the European Union
on refugees as Ankara and the 28-member bloc wrangle over fulfillment of Ankara’s commitments in the deal.
“All the agreements we have achieved until now, built on confidence, goodwill, taking responsibilities, and also taking political risks, is facing a very dangerous moment,” Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir told a news
conference with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday.
He also challenged the EU, which says it will not lift Schengen visa requirements on Turks until Ankara meets five more standards, saying his country has fulfilled the provisions of the agreement.
“This is not a mathematics problem. This is a political problem,” Bozkir highlighted, adding, “Our interpretation is that we have fulfilled our expectations sufficiently enough.”
He also reiterated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opposition to changing Turkey’s anti-terror law, which is among the five of the 72 benchmarks still to be met.
“This change in anti-terror law is completely impossible. Plus we think that our law is relevant to the European standards,” Bozkir said.
Refugees queue for food at the makeshift camp along the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni on April 20, 2016. (AFP photo)
Ankara says the law is necessary given the ongoing clashes with Kurdish militants in the country and the threat of Daesh terrorist group in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Rights groups, however, accuse Turkey of using the broad anti-terrorism legislation to silence opposition and arrest critics, including reporters and academics.
Analysts say the problem of changing the anti-terror laws could endanger Turkey-EU refugee deal which has prompted a sharp decline in the number of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.
Under the EU-Turkey deal sealed in March, Ankara agreed to take back all the asylum seekers and refugees, who had used its territory to illegally reach the EU shores, in return for a number of commitments from the EU, including financial aid, visa liberalization and progress in its EU membership negotiations.