Visa deal or no migrant deal, Turkey warns EU
Turkey stood its ground over the contentious issue of visa-free travel for its citizens on Saturday, warning German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials it would stop taking back migrants from Europe if the bloc failed to keep its word.
"The issue of the visa waiver is vital for Turkey," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a joint news conference with Merkel, European Council head Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.
The leaders were in southeast Turkey for a high-stakes visit aimed at boosting a six-billion-euro ($6.7 billion) deal to return migrants arriving on Greek shores to Turkey. The deal has been plagued by moral and legal concerns.
If Ankara meets its side of the agreement, the European Commission has promised to recommend next month that EU states approve visa-free travel for Turks.
Asked what Turkey would do if the EU tried to delay the visa part of the accord, Davutoglu said Ankara would stop taking back migrants.
"If that were to happen then the readmission agreement will also not enter into force," he said.