Merkel: ‘Not concerned’ about future of EU-Turkey migrant deal

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German Chancellor Merkel has said the migrant deal agreed by the European Union and Turkey will go ahead as planned. Her comments come in response to threats by Ankara to nix the agreement over a visa-free travel row.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she was “not concerned” about the future of the controversial migrant deal reached between the European Union and Turkey, even as tensions rise between Germany and Turkey over the particulars of the agreement.

Shortly after a meeting with her cabinet, Merkel told journalists the deal would go ahead as planned, despite threats from Turkey that the agreement may not last.

Merkel said more time would be needed for the deal to be fully implemented. “But in any case we are on the right page when it comes to our arrangements,” she added.

Threats from Ankara

The pact hit a new bump in the road after Turkey’s parliament approved legislation that stripped certain lawmakers with ties to the Kurdish PKK party of their political immunity. The move drew condemnation from members of the international community, who saw it as an example of Erdogan trying to consolidate power and diminish the influence of the country’s embattled Kurdish minority.

Omer Celik, Turkey’s new minister in charge of relations with the EU, said Wednesday that the bloc was applying “double standards” concerning his country’s fight against terrorism and added that Turkey’s EU membership would be important but was not the country’s “only option.”

On Monday, the EU said it was suspending its plans to implement visa-free travel for Turks, saying Ankara had not made the necessary reforms on freedom of the press and the judiciary in time. That deal would see Turkey’s 75 million citizens allowed to enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days without a visa.

Erdogan responded on Tuesday by suggesting that Ankara would put an end to the migrant deal altogether. As part of the agreement, Turkey has said it would take back refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey. In return, the EU said it would provide Turkey up to 6 billion euros to house and care for refugees.

blc/sms (dpa, Reuters)