Accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises to Turkey, Ömer Çelik, Turkey’s chief negotiator and minister for European Union affairs, said on Saturday that Turkey would not implement the readmission agreement.
Talking to Swiss SRF TV, Çelik said that although Turkey “saved” Europe from one of its biggest crises and an influx of refugees, the European countries did not keep their promises to Turkey. Stating that Turkey hosts between 2 and 3 million refugees, Çelik said the EU has only admitted 1 percent of Syrians it promised to take in.
“Neither the admission of refugees nor financial support for Turkey was realized. As a result, we will not implement the readmission agreement,” Çelik said in a rebuke to the EU. The Turkish minister further said that no progress would be made on any issue unless visa liberalization for Turkish citizens is accomplished. According to Çelik, Turkey protected Europe from a huge crisis for “humanitarian reasons.” However, he claimed that “instead of thanking Turkey, the EU has almost put Turkey in a defensive position.”
The readmission agreement requires Turkey to take back-third country nationals who entered the EU illegally using Turkey as a transit point. If Turkey implements the agreement, in return it would receive assistance in border security efforts and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens that would allow them to travel freely in Schengen area.
In response to a question about Turkey’s expectations from Europe, Çelik said there is no reason why Turkey should not become a full member of the EU. He even argued that Turkey has complied with the Copenhagen and Maastricht criteria more fully than EU countries. He further urged a “new beginning between Turkey and the EU.”
Despite the EU minister’s arguments, Turkey is under the spotlight for arbitrary arrests in the wake of a foiled coup on July 15. In addition to almost 100 imprisoned journalists, close to 100,000 people have been purged, detained or arrested without due process under Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government.
Minister Çelik claimed that there is an anti-Turkey campaign in Europe thanks to the influence of the extreme right in the continent.