Angela Merkel says EU and Turkey must stick to migrant deal

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin on November 25, 2016, during a week of budget debate. TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday the European Union and Turkey must stick to their commitments to each other on the migrant deal, which is now in a danger of collapsing due to rising tensions following a vote on Thursday by the European Parliament to suspend talks with Turkey.

Following the EP passage of a non-binding resolution to suspend talks on Turkey joining the bloc as a protest against Ankara’s crackdown on dissent after a failed coup in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened in response to unleash a new wave of migrants on Europe. He also said he might scrap a deal to keep millions of migrants inside his borders in return for the promise of accelerated EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe and financial aid.

Speaking during a regional conference of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the northern city of Neumuenster on Friday, Merkel said the refugee deal with Turkey is in the mutual interest of both sides.

Underlining that the deal had helped to control the influx of migrants and fight human smuggling, Merkel added “that’s why we as Europeans must meet our commitments and Turkey must do the same.”

Asked by a CDU member if she had an alternative plan in case the deal with Ankara should fall apart, Merkel said: “I have no plan B, … it’s difficult, but I’m working hard to make sure that this plan is being implemented. And I’m also working hard to make sure we reach similar agreements with other countries.”

German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli told journalists earlier on Friday that It is important that the EU not freeze accession negotiations with Turkey because that would only further damage the relationship between Turkey and Europe, and that would not be in the interest of either.

Turkish authorities have detained or dismissed more than 115,000 people – including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders – over their alleged backing for the coup, in what opponents, rights groups and some Western allies say is an attempt to crush all dissent.

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