Turkey may have to rescind its migrant deal with the EU if it cannot secure visa-free travel, according to Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Ankara’s migration deal with Europe has today been called into question after the Turkish government accused the EU of delaying the payment of the €3 billion meant to help the country deal with the infux of Syrian, Middle Eastern, and North African migrants.
In an interview published in German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr Cusoglu claimed the “very serious measures” taken by Turkey had so far proven effective in slowing the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe.
“But all that is dependent on the cancellation of the visa requirement for our citizens, which is also an item in the agreement of 18 March,” Cavusoglu said adding that “if visa liberalisation does not follow, we will be forced to back away from the deal on taking back (refugees) and the agreement of 18 March.”
The European Commission argued that the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement is one of its foremost priorities, saying: “We expect the same from our Turkish partners.”
A Commission spokesperson said: “For our part, the Commission has continued to respect and accelerate the implementation of our commitments under the Statement over the past months. With the special measures adopted last week for example, we have already mobilised €2 out of €3 billion from the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.”
KCW Today recently reported that the European Commission had released a further €1.4 billion to help Turkey to care for its population of Syrian Refugees, bringing the total paid to Turkey already to €2 billion.
Since the Commission’s EU-Turkey Statement of 18th March 2016 €2.155 billion of the €3 billion has already been mobilised.