Turkey threatens to withdraw from refugee deal with EU if no visa-free travel

Ankara: Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey may back out of its agreement with the European Union to stem the flow of migrants into the bloc if the EU does not deliver visa-free travel for Turks.

Cavusoglu said the agreement on stemming the refugee flow had worked because of “very serious measures” taken by Ankara. “But all that is dependent on the cancellation of the visa requirement for our citizens, which is also an item in the agreement of March 18.”

Cavusoglu said in a release in advance of comments to be published in the newspaper’s Monday edition. “If visa liberalization does not follow, we will be forced to back away from the deal on taking back (refugees) and the agreement of March 18,” he said, adding that the Turkish government was waiting for a precise date for visa liberalization.

“It could be the beginning or middle of October – but we are waiting for a firm date.”
The deal was widely criticised by humanitarian groups and rights organisations, many of which claimed it violated international law.

Jerome Oberreit, the secretary general of MSF, said at the time. “The EU deal is the latest in a long line of policies that go against the values and the principles that enable assistance to be provided.”

“We cannot accept funding from the EU or the member states while at the same time treating the victims of their policies. It’s that simple.”