Turkey’s 2,700,000 Syrian refugees, their lives already blighted by the civil war in their country, have been thrown into further uncertainty as a standoff between Europe and Turkey over a deal intended to stem the flow of migrants to the continent escalates.
Brussels and Ankara have agreed to a €6bn (£4.1bn) deal to operate a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy for refugees arriving from Syria and a further €6bn in aid to assist Syrians in Turkey.
German leader Angela Merkel said on Monday (23 May) that the scheduled start date for visa-free travel in the Schengen zone was no longer tenable. The chancellor cited delays in Ankara’s reform of anti-terror laws and on press freedom and the judiciary as the reasons for the postponement, Deutsche Welle reported.
As further talks between the 28-member bloc and Turkey are arranged, the Turkish president hit back at Merkel and the EU. Speaking as the UN’s World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his parliament would block the swap deal if visa-free travel was not granted.
“If that (the visa exemption) is not what will happen… no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the parliament of the Turkish Republic,” he was quoted by the Hurriyet Daily News as saying.