We may cancel Turkey-EU refugee deal, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu says

Published 15.03.2017 21:31
Updated 15.03.2017 21:45
We may cancel Turkey-EU refugee deal, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu says

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a televised interview late Wednesday that the Turkish government may cancel the refugee deal with the European Union.

Çavuşoğlu's remarks came at a time when Turkey-EU relations are at stake, especially this week's detention of Turkish officials by the Netherlands. The northern European country detained the Turkish chargé d'affaires in The Hague, Alper Yüksel and Rotterdam consul general Sadin Ayyıldız. The Dutch premier Mark Rutte apologized to his Turkish counterpart Binali Yıldırım for the detentions.

Following last week's bans in Germany preventing Turkish ministers from meeting Turks in living the country, the Netherlands prevented Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's plane from landing in the country on Saturday. Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was prevented from entering into the Turkish consulate general in Rotterdam and deported from the Netherlands later in the day, while the police forcefully dispersing Turkish protesters.

Previously, EU minister Ömer Çelik also suggested reconsidering the EU-Turkey refugee deal, especially the parts concerning with refugees trying to enter Europe by land.

"Turkey has no obligation at this stage to continue the agreement since the EU has failed to comply with it," Çelik told a news conference in capital Ankara.

"Nonetheless, we have acted [all this time] out of humane responsibility," he said, adding Turkey had prevented a lot of deaths in the Aegean Sea after the deal.

"But Turkey should reconsider this issue [the refugee deal] especially in terms of land crossings," Çelik said.

Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country. However, Turkey has so far received only 677 million euros ($716 million).

The agreement also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey's EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises most EU states.

In a joint statement from November 2015, the EU and Turkey confirmed their commitments to re-energize the accession process.

A year later, however, the European Parliament approved a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey, in response to post-coup investigations and recent developments in the country including measures taken within the framework of the fight against the PKK and Gülenist terror groups.

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