“We turned to Erdogan for help because we did not have a single policy on migrants. I wish we had one and had evenly distributed the 1.5 million migrants who arrived in Europe last year among 500 million Europeans. The problem is that they were distributed among just three countries. That’s why I don’t think there is any alternative to a concerted European policy on migration,” Gabriel said.
Sigmar Gabriel, who is also leader of the Social Democrats, added that such a policy should include “a legal opportunity to migrate to Europe” and provide for an even distribution of incoming migrants among all members of the European Union.
In mid-March, the EU and Turkey agreed to a deal under which Ankara 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.