Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has announced that Turkey’s readmission agreement with the European Union has been suspended, the Evrensel newspaper reported on Monday.
Speaking on a news broadcast, Çavuşoğlu said the readmission agreement should have gone into effect simultaneously with a visa liberalization for Turkish citizens that has not been implemented despite being a part of the wider deal Turkey signed with the EU in March 2016.
The agreement between Turkey and the EU set out measures for reducing 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 was slated to receive benefits including visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe, which in the accord was promised “at the latest” by June 2016. Turkey was also to receive a total of 6 billion euros in financial aid for the Syrian refugees it is hosting.
Turkey, however, refused to revise its anti-terror laws, which Brussels insisted were not compatible with European standards, thus deadlocking the visa liberalization part of the deal.
During political tensions with the EU and European countries in the past, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly threatened to open the border gates to Europe for millions of Syrian refugees.
The announcement to suspend the agreement came soon after the EU adopted several sanctions for Turkey over its hydrocarbon drilling activities off Cyprus, which have led to tensions with Greece.
Çavuşoğlu also addressed the conflict in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The EU only takes decisions to satisfy the Greek Cypriots and Greece. Their sanctions have no value,” he said. “The EU is instead supposed to mediate.”