With the German chancellor attending the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey’s president has used the occasion to raise the issue of Turkish visa-free travel to the European Union.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that a recent deal reached with the bloc on migrants could collapse if the visa issue isn’t speeded up.
“Our minister of foreign affairs and minister of European Union will hold talks. If an agreement is not reached in these talks, no offense but the legislation on taking necessary steps on implementing the readmission agreement will not be approved in this parliament,” he said.
The EU has offered Turkey a visa waiver as one of several incentives to get it to stop migrants leaving for Europe and readmitting those who reach Europe illegally from Turkey. The visa-free aspect of the deal was supposed to be in place by the end of this month.
The EU has been desperate to get Turkey on board to stem the tide of migrants which has sparked major political and humanitarian problems for many members of the bloc. But it says Turkey still needs to meet certain conditions. Ankara has accused Europe of throwing up new hurdles in the deal,
One of the disputed points for visa liberalisation relates to Turkey’s anti-terrorism legislation. The EU and rights groups have accused Ankara of using it to intimidate journalists and stifle dissent. Turkey’s government denies it, saying it needs the laws to fight militants.