The European Union should implement visa-free travel for Turks by the end of the year and stop insisting Turkey change its anti-terrorism laws or Ankara may cancel its side of a deal to readmit illegal migrants, Turkey’s EU minister told Reuters.
Turkey agreed in March to stop illegal migrants from crossing into Greece in exchange for financial aid for those in its care, the promise of visa-free travel for its citizens to much of the EU, and accelerated EU membership talks.
But there has been deadlock over the plan to grant Turks visa-free access to Europe by October. Brussels first wants Turkey to change its anti-terrorism laws, which it deems too broad and potentially oppressive for European standards.
“Forcing this despite the situation is putting a roadblock in front of the visa liberalization, and therefore we will assume they aren’t keeping the promises they made,” Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said in an interview in Ankara.
“In that case we won’t carry out the readmission deal, and
we will cancel it if necessary,” he said, referring to a 2013 deal in which Turkey agreed to take back migrants who traveled illegally to the EU in return for the promise of visa-free travel.