SHAFAQNA – TURKEY has threatened to send migrants back to European Union (EU) countries if the visa-free travel deal falls through as talks stall over the country’s anti-terror laws.
Officials in Brussels offered Turkey £2.5billion and visa-free travel throughout the EU by June if Ankara clamped down on the migrant crisis.
The EU has demanded Turkey reform its strict anti-terror laws as part of 72 requirements- but Turkish officials say it is ‘impossible’ to meet the demands.
Eurosceptics have accused Ankara of holding the EU to ransom over the migrant deal but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insists there is no blackmail campaign.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “We have told them ‘we are not threatening you’ but there’s a reality. We have signed two deals with you [the EU] and both are interlinked.
Turkey has so far fulfilled 69 of the EU’s 72 conditions in a bid to be granted visa-free travel but crunch talks have stalled over the anti-terror laws which Brussels say curb basic human rights.
Rights groups and some European officials say Turkey uses the laws to stifle dissent, prosecuting academics and journalists for expressing peaceful opinions.
Mr Cavusoglu added: “Each country in Europe has different terror definitions. In such a circumstance, it is impossible to change terror laws.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The question remains open what Turkey does with the changes of the anti-terror laws. This is a condition of the European Union.”
1.3 million migrants have passed through Turkey to reach Greece and Italy since the start of 2015
President Erdogan will send diplomats to Brussels this week to thrash out a deal
The extended talks mean an agreement by the end of June is increasingly unlikely with officials yet to discuss a data protection law and the creation of an independent data protection authority.
The EU has demanded Turkey reform its strict anti-terror laws as part of 72 requirements.
More than one million migrants entered the EU through Turkey last year but the agreement with Turkey has sharply reduced the influx of refugees to the 28-member bloc.
The deal has sparked fears Turkey is on its way to becoming a full member of the EU.