Talks between Ankara and the EU over the proposed migrant deal for “irregular migrants” to be returned to Turkey from Greece have stumbled over conditions the EU wants Turkey to meet in return for visa-free access for its citizens to the Schengen zone.
Chief among these is the requirement for the Turkish government to change its anti-terror laws that have been used to silence journalists, media outlets and critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which Turkey has flatly refused to do.
In a sign of the tensions, the chief EU ambassador conducting the negotiations, Hansjörg Haber, was reported in the newspaper Hurriyet, as saying:
“We have a proverb, ‘To start like a Turk and end like a German,’ but it has been just the opposite here [in these negotiations]. It started like a German and is being finished like a Turk.”
His comments forced the Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır to say: “The German ambassador of the EU should explain to the Turkish nation what he meant when he said ‘like a German and like a Turk.’ No diplomat and especially no ambassador can address the president of a country where he is posted for his job like this.
“An ambassador does not have the right to humiliate the country and people where he is located and say a word against the president. This is the first principle of diplomacy,” said Bozkır.