The European Commission will not be able to get rid of Turkey’s empty promises, experts emphasize
Written by Marina Baltacheva; Originally appeared at Vzglyad, translated by Theo N. Kaufman exclusively for SouthFront
The European Union’s Agreement with Turkey on the topic of migrants, leaves for Brussels, less ways to maneuver on the visa-free regime with Turkey. Turkey has not fulfilled a number of preconditions, such as freedom of speech, fair justice and others, but on Tuesday the latter had unilaterally announced the abolition of visas for citizens of EU member countries. EU leaders are under pressure from the public, which is tired of arriving migrants, and therefore forced to give Ankara the green light on its desired visa liberalization process.
On May the 4th The Commission will approve the abolition of visas with Turkey, however, if such a decision is made, the EC will do it, “holding its breath and holding its nose,” a BBC source said. Recall, that on that day the EC will provide a third progress report on visa liberalization for Turkey. Earlier, in a statement, the agency noted that if “Turkey will take the necessary measures to comply with the remaining conditions, the report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal to move Turkey to a visa-free list ( of countries)”.
“Turkey needs this great deal”
“It is difficult to understand how it is that currently Turkey can meet these conditions. The government in Ankara is increasingly cracking down on critics od the autocrat, in a non- democratic manner”.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Turkey, on Tuesday, decided to cancel the visa regime for the citizens of the 28 EU member countries, reported RIA “Novosti”. The Directive will enter into force simultaneously with the provision of Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to the Schengen area, according to the ruling. EC spokesman Margaritis Shinas, welcomed the adoption of the measure, noting that this requirement has been one of the most important, that Ankara should fulfill to get visa-free regime with the community.
Recall, that leaders – of the European Union and the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu signed an agreement on March the 18th, agreeing to return the illegal immigrants who arrived via Turkey to Greece in exchange for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. In addition, Ankara was promised 3 billion euros from the EU for receiving the Syrian refugees from Turkey. It is worth noting that this agreement was contested and caused dissatisfaction by all the parties. First, the representatives of Ankara were unhappy with the size of the monetary compensation and doubled their demand (from 3 to 6 billion euros) to increase aid from the EU.
This only added to the already existing differences in Europe over the deal between Brussels and Ankara. As a result, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel was forced to note that “Turkey does require a great deal”. “I do not accept the negotiations, which sometimes look like a manifestation of blackmail”, – he said. Michel promised that Belgium will firmly defend European interests in the negotiations with Turkey. Before him, the President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman also said that Turkey is trying to blackmail the European Union by increasing its financial demands. The fact of blackmail by Turkey of the European Union is unacceptable, said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Mismatch of “provocative” conditions
Now, however, a serious concern raises – as the leaders of the EU, and not Turkey – pose 72 conditions, which, according to the agreement, Turkey, on May 4 already must comply with. This deal should be recognized by the EC, and then Ankara will gain access to the EU Schengen zone by the end of June.
In March, the European source pointed out that Turkey has fulfilled only 30 of the 72 requirements. In an attempt to influence the Turkish authorities, the European Parliament, which in the end must approve the agreement, in April, presented a report in which it noted about “the retreat from democracy” by Ankara. In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called this “provocative” and further stated that “the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU”. At the same time the European Commission continued the funding of Turkey for limiting the migration and re-allocated 110 million euros, thus ensuring Ankara got 187 million euros of the promised 3 billion.
Diplomats admit that at least 10 requirements remain unfulfilled by Turkey. The most difficult ones for Ankara are – EU’s demand for freedom of speech and fair justice for its citizens. In addition, the EU insists on a revision of Turkish laws on terrorism to protect the rights of minorities. “It is difficult to understand how it is that currently Turkey can meet these conditions. The government in Ankara is increasingly cracking down on critics in an autocratic, not democratic manner “, – said BBC Europe editor Katya Adler. However, she recalled that the EU is now in a “desperate modus”. The European Commission and most EU governments are under tremendous pressure from the public pushed to resolve the migration crisis”.
“Turkey will get a green light”
The European Union still fears that without the visa liberalization Turkey will not control the flow of migrants. And without the participation of Turkey the problem can hardly be solved as the main wave of refugees to Europe is from Turkey and North Africa, reminds the BBC. Therefore, sources close to the deal, emphasize that the EC would not be able to get rid of the next portion of the promises to Ankara. “Turkey, this week will get the green light on the visas, so the sweet desired goal will be achieved”. However, lets also remind of the conditions which it must meet”- said the source.
Meanwhile, human rights organizations, are against the agreement between Brussels and Ankara. Remember, that in accordance with the agreement between the EU and Turkey, migrants who have arrived illegally from Turkey to Greece, since March the 20th, should be sent back to Turkey, if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.
Human rights activists questioned the legality of the measure and argued that Turkey is a very unsafe place to return these people. The European Commissions President Donald Tusk, disagreed about this notion. In April, he said that the agreement with Turkey begins to yield results. Tusk, praised the Turkish government’s work and said that it was, “the best example in the world, in regard on how to treat refugees”.
Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu, also stressed earlier that his country had fully fulfilled its part of the agreement, as the visa issue – is “vital” for Turkey.