Turkey will not yield to the EU’s pressure to alter its anti-terrorism legislation in return for visa-free travel to the Schengen zone; such pressure is tantamount to supporting terrorism, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted by the news agency Anadolu as saying.
“Telling us to change our anti-terror law at a time when we are fighting against the PKK and Daesh amounts to supporting terrorism. We will never give in to such impositions,” Cavusoglu said.
The statement came after the European Commission offered the Turks visa-free Schengen zone travel as part of an EU-Ankara deal which obliges Turkey to contain the flow of refugees to Europe in exchange for accelerating the country’s EU application process.
Anadolu recalled that “among the five remaining benchmarks for Turkey to address in order to receive visa-free travel, the EU has called for changes to Ankara’s legislation on terrorism,” something that was harshly criticized earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
EU stands ready to fulfil its part of EU-Turkey deal as long as Turkey agrees to play by the rules, and not with the rules
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) 17 мая 2016 г.
Cavusoglu, for his part, blamed the EU for its inability to deliver on its promises and maintaining double standards.
“The EU has given visa-free travel to candidate countries without even starting the negotiation phase. Isn’t it then the right of Turkish citizens to enjoy this too? We are talking about visa-free travel, not membership,” he said.
Meanwhile, a European Commission report has warned that scrapping visa requirements for Turkey as part of the migration deal might raise the possibility of terrorist attacks in the European Union.
The UK newspaper The Telegraph quoted an extract from the report as saying that the proposed visa liberalization for Turkish travelers to the Schengen area could potentially impact the risk of terrorism in the EU as it would lift travel restrictions on terrorists which have Turkish citizenship.
Criminals could also take advantage of unrestricted entry to the European Union to engage in illegal activity, including drug smuggling, importing forbidden firearms and human trafficking, the report revealed.
In mid-March, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory and exchange them for legal Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis.
In return, the 28-member bloc pledged to accelerate Turkey’s EU accession bid and grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel within the Schengen area.