Turkish president President Tayyip Erdogan told the European Union on Friday that Turkey would not make changes to its terrorism laws required under a deal to curb migration, and declared: “we’re going our way, you go yours”.
His fiery speech will be a blow to any hope in European capitals that it might be business as usual with Turkey after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who negotiated the migration deal with Europe and had largely delivered on Turkey’s commitments so far, announced he was standing down.
The EU asked member states on Wednesday to grant visa-free travel to Turks in return for Ankara stopping migrants reaching Europe, but said Turkey still had to change some legislation, including bringing its terrorism laws in line with EU standards.
“When Turkey is under attack from terrorist organizations and the powers that support them directly, or indirectly, the EU is telling us to change the law on terrorism,” Erdogan said in a speech at the opening of a local government office in the conservative Istanbul district of Eyup.
“They say ‘I am going to abolish visas and this is the condition.’ I’m sorry, we’re going our way, you go yours. Agree with whoever you can agree,” Erdogan said.
Visa-free travel is for many Turks the biggest benefit of Ankara’s deal with the EU. Europe, meanwhile, is counting on Turkey to maintain an agreement that has helped stem the flow of refugees and migrants via Turkish shores, which saw more than a million people reach Greece and Italy last year.
Davutoglu’s departure consolidates the power of Erdogan, who has been highly critical of the EU in the past and who is seen in Brussels as a far tougher negotiating partner less closely wedded in recent years to Turkey’s ambition of joining the EU.
To win visa-free travel, Turkey must still meet five of 72 criteria the EU imposes on all states exempt from visas, one of which is narrowing its legal definition of terrorism. (via Reuters)
Of course, Turkey defines as “terrorism” also any form of criticism to the Sultan in luxury Palace in Ankara. One has just to count the perceptions of Turkish journalists.
The equitation of the EU Turkey Deal s simple: Not meeting criteria = no visa-free for Turks = no visa-free for Turks = not implementation of the EU Turkey Deal form the Turkish side.
The visa-free for Turks is (was) to go into effect next month.
Wait for the moment when the offended Sultan will start sending thousands of refugees and migrants to EU again. EU? No! EU has closed its borders. Therefore all the people will strand to Greek shores again.
Nobody had believed that the EU Turkey Deal had chances to work, anyway.
PS At the end of the EU – Turkey struggle, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will win with an “economic accession to EU” only, as it was his plan from the very beginning when he won the elections back in 2004. But there is still a long way for that.