Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş stated that it is out of question for Turkey to suspend the migrant deal with the European Union (EU), adding that now it is the EU’s turn to fulfill its promises since Turkey held up its end, speaking in a press conference following the Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Kurtulmuş, who is also a government spokesman, noted that the government has been pursuing its efforts to gain visa-free travel for Turks in the EU, which is part of the migrant deal. He added that he is expecting the EU to be transparent with Turkey as the country has fulfilled its responsibilities.
“We believe that none of the promises made by the EU was just lip service. It is not in our agenda to suspend the migrant deal,” Kurtulmuş said.
According to Kurtulmuş, Turkish EU minister and minister of foreign affairs will hold further talks with EU officials as part of the previous meetings between two parties that took place in Brussels. “We will be working towards making this process to conclude positively,” the deputy prime minister said.
Kurtulmuş’s statement contradicted that of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said two weeks ago that if the talks with the EU fail to result in a visa exemption for Turks, the Turkish parliament would not pass the migrant deal.
The March 18 agreement sets out measures for stemming Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II, including stepped-up checks by Turkey and the shipping back to Turkish territory of migrants who arrive in Greece.
In return, Turkey is slated to receive benefits including visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe, which in the accord is promised “at the latest” by June 2016.
Turkey is also to receive up to the end of 2018 a total of six billion euros in financial aid for the over 2.7 million Syrian refugees it is hosting.