Turkish PM: No Migrant Readmission Agreement Without Visa Liberalization

ttTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Turkey’s migrant readmission agreement with Europe will not be fulfilled without EU visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, speaking at a news conference at the end of a high level EU delegation visit to the southeastern province of Gaziantep to discuss migrant crisis and the EU-Turkey deal.

The prime minister also said visa liberalization was vital and that he believed the EU would take the necessary steps to complete the deal.

Meanwhile, European Union Council President Donald Tusk announced that the 28-member bloc will spend 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) this summer on projects to improve the lives of Syrian migrants, while praising the country’s efforts as the “best example” on how refugees should be treated.

“No one has a right to lecture Turkey on what it should be doing,” Tusk said.

“This is not only a political and formal assessment… this is also my very private and personal feeling,” he added.

In addition, Davutoğlu also noted that the number of irregular crossings to Greece has dropped considerably.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said she was pushing for the establishment of special security zones in Syria near the border with Turkey.

“I have … again demanded that we have zones where the ceasefire is particularly enforced and where a significant level of security can be guaranteed,” Merkel said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials arrived in Turkey’s Gaziantep on April 23.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu greeted Merkel at Gaziantep Airport along with deputy prime ministers Yalçın Akdoğan and Mehmet Şimşek, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, Gaziantep Governor Ali Yerlikaya, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin and other officials. Syrian children wearing traditional outfits also met the officials at the airport.

The Chancellor, EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, later visited Syrian migrants living in a tent city in the Nizip district which hosts around 5,000 migrants.

Following their visit to the camp, leaders attended the opening ceremony of Family and Child Center in Gaziantep, built with the support of EU funds and UNICEF in coordination with Family and Social Policies Ministry.

A senior Turkish government official told Reuters that the main focus of the visit would be on relations with the EU and implementing the migrant deal, including how to spend a promised 3 billion euros ($3.37 billion) in funding.

Meanwhile, security measures have also been stepped up in Gaziantep as uniformed and plain-clothed police officers patrolled the province.