‘Turkey might cancel refugee deal if not granted visa-free travel’

ANKARA, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 09: Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik delivers a speech during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn after the Turkey - EU High Level Political Dialogue Meeting at Ankara Palace in Ankara, Turkey on September 09, 2016. Fatih Aktas / Anadolu Agency


Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik told Reuters in an interview that unless the European Union implements visa-free travel for Turkish citizens by the end of 2016 and stops pushing Turkey to reform its counterterrorism laws, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government might cancel its side of an agreement to readmit illegal immigrants.

According to an agreement between Turkey and the EU, Turkey will block illegal immigrants’ access to Europe in return for financial aid and visa-free travel for its citizens.

However, the EU is demanding that Turkey fulfill a set of requirements such as a reform of its counterterrorism law, which is considered oppressive by European criteria.

“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,” Çelik told Reuters in Ankara. He went on to say, “In that case we won’t carry out the readmission deal, and we will cancel it if necessary,” 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.

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