EU ministers cool on Turkey 'deal'

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By Euronews
EU ministers cool on Turkey 'deal'

EU interior ministers gave a cool reaction on Thursday to a tentative deal with Turkey that would see visa restrictions eased in return for stemming the flow of migrants to Greek shores.

The accord was brokered in late-night talks in Brussels last week, largely by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But it still needs to be finalised by EU leaders at a summit on March 17 and 18.

The UN has said that the agreement would be illegal under international, while rights groups have also been highly critical.

“We ask the immediate activation of the action plan with Turkey. We ask for the immediate activation of the readmission agreement from Turkey. We ask a clear commitment for relocation and resettlement from the member states,” said Yannis Mouzalas, the Greek interior minister.

His Austrian counterpart, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, raised Vienna’s concerns about the recent seizing of the Zaman newspaper, which has been a constant thorn in the side of the Turkish government.

“It’s highly questionable that Turkey, which puts a newspaper critical of the government under its own control, presents a wish-list three days later and is rewarded by discussions about earlier visa liberalisation,” she told reporters. “I ask myself if the EU is throwing its values overboard.”

By the time, heads of state and government get around to finalising the Turkey agreement, the refugees and migrants may be on another road to Europe.

The European Commission and Italy are preparing for a possible alternative route appearing through the Adriatic, reports euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta.

“We are working to prevent that,” Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said ahead of the meeting, without giving details.