Turkey announced it will stop implementing an agreement with the European Union to stem the flow of migrants into the European bloc if the EU does not provide a clear date to grant visa-free travel to Turks. In an interview with Turkey’s Haberturk television, EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said that the EU asking Turkey to change its terrorism laws, a key demand from the European Union to finalize the visa-free travel, would mean endangering Europe’s own security.
“Our stance is firm. If they (EU) won’t provide a precise date to grant us visa-free travel, we will not implement the readmission agreement and we will not make further progress on this matter. They are asking if we are threatening the European Union. We don’t threaten anyone, we don’t blackmail anyone. Those who talk about threats and blackmail should take a look at the statements of some EU officials to comprehend the meaning of these words… If they come to us with a strategy to keep us on the path of negotiations with the European Union thinking ‘let’s make sure they remain there without making any progress’, let me be clear. I am the chief negotiator for Turkey’s accession talks. No one can insult Turkey. No one can be disrespectful to Turkey. No one can underestimate Turkish democracy. No one can dictate to Turkey,” said Omer Celik, Turkish EU-Affairs Minister. Though criticized by rights advocates, the European Union’s deal with Turkey has helped to sharply cut the number of migrants and refugees from reaching European shores, giving EU politicians breathing space after around 1.3 million people reached the continent last year.