Friday, August 5, 2016

Fears mount that EU-Turkey migrant deal could collapse

Fears are mounting in the European Union that its months-old pact with Turkey to curb migrant flows could collapse as a rift deepens over Ankara's crackdown following a failed coup.

Turkey angrily rejects EU criticism that its post-coup purges might violate rights norms Ankara must meet under the agreement in return for visa-free travel for Turks and accelerated negotiations for bloc membership.

"The risk is big. The success so far of the pact is fragile," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker told Austrian daily Kurier last weekend.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has "already hinted several times that he wants to scrap it," Juncker said.

If that happens, he added, "then we can expect migrants to start coming to Europe again."

If the pact collapses, cash-strapped EU member Greece would be the first to feel the heat as it was the main gateway for some one million asylum seekers entering Europe last year.

"Clearly we are concerned," Greece's immigration minister Yannis Mouzalas said.

"But for now the number of people arriving on the Greek islands does not indicate that the deal is not being respected," he said...

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