EU ministers are already looking for a plan B in case the deal with Turkey to keep refugees away from the bloc falters, German newspaper BILD reports.
Since the agreement to stem the flow of refugees between the EU and Turkey has been implemented, Turkish officials — including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — have time and again threatened to pull the plug on it.
Various reasons were listed — including that the EU was not acting fast enough on its promises — and the latest one is that Erdogan has said that he would not bring its terrorism laws in line with EU standards.
Erdogan told the EU on Friday that “We’re going our way, you go yours,” in terms of terrorism laws. On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Turkey would develop the necessary policies on visa liberalisation with the European Union and execute them in line with Erdogan’s statements, Reuters reports.
If no policies can be drawn up, the EU would then have to put a stop to the implementation of VISA-free travel throughout the EU for Turkish citizens, which would probably lead to a collapse of the deal.
Those fears have pushed EU leaders to try and find a plan on how to avoid a potential new flood of refugees coming into the the bloc, BILD reports.
The discussions so far have been centred around the Greek islands, which would become central admission points for refugees. Ferries would be suspended to the Greek mainland and unsuccessful asylum applicants would be sent back to their home countries from the islands. Some of the six billion euros promised to Turkey could also be given to Greece, an EU minister told BILD.
So far the deal has been beneficial to the EU, as the number of migrants arriving to the bloc dropped from over 70,000 for the month of January to less than 13,000 for April, according to the UNHCR. and over 340 people have already been returned to Turkey since April 4 under the deal.
The deal between the EU and Turkey has been decried since its implementation by several human rights organisations who say that the safety of refugees cannot be guaranteed in Turkey.
Turkey has also continued to edge closer to a ‘one-man-rule’ as the Prime Minister had to resign following disagreements with President Erdogan.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, has also announced he would visit the Greek Macedonia border this week to assess the situation and gather information on the human rights of migrants.
“In 2015, over one million migrants arrived in Greece; its proximity to Turkey makes it a key point of entry for many migrants seeking to reach Europe,” Crépeau said in a statement. “Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border, knowing who comes in and who leaves. It has never been about sealing the border to migration.”
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