Should the migrant deal between the European Union and Turkey collapse it would prove problematic not only for Brussels but also for Ankara as it will once again highlight Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inability to reach compromises with his partners, Member of the European Parliament Hilde Vautmans told Sputnik on Monday.
“The [potential] collapse of the deal might be a problem for Erdogan as well, since it will show him [to be] a leader that does not only compromise on his fight, but cannot reach the hand to its most important partners either,” Vautmans, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, said, underlining that “Turkey has also isolated itself from Russia.”
Speaking in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdogan warned Brussels that Ankara would walk away from the migration deal if Brussels failed to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens by the end of June.
In mid-March, both sides agreed to a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the EU through its territory in exchange for Syrian refugees residing in Turkey. In return, the 28-member bloc promised to accelerate Turkey’s EU accession bid and introduce a visa-free regime between the two sides.
Turkey has already fulfilled the bulk of the requirements needed for the free travel deal with the five most problematic criteria still remaining. On Friday, Erdogan rejected the EU call to revise Turkey’s national anti-terrorism laws, warning that pressing Ankara to do so would lead to a split in relations.
“Freedom of press and association is a cornerstone of a well-functioning democracy. When anti-terrorism laws are abused to rein in opposition, we cannot accept that, ” the EU lawmaker said.
Turkey currently defines terrorism to include non-violent political activities which can be exploited by the authorities to jail dissident journalists and academics. The European Union wants Turkey to narrow its definition of terrorism to avoid potential crackdowns on journalists as well as to ensure fair trials and freedom of speech and assembly.