Turkey threats to break deal on migrants if the EU wavered in its promises.
Turkey is threatening to open its borders and let tens of thousands of migrants into Europe, unless its citizens are given free travel visas throughout mainland Europe.
If the EU does not keep its word by financially and politically rewarding Ankara, the country has warned that it will cancel its part of the recent deal reached with the EU on migrants.
EU-Turkey Deal on Migrants
Under the controversial agreement, economic migrants arriving in Greece will be sent back to Turkey, relieving the intense pressure on Greece with only those claiming asylum remaining.
The Agreement came into effect on 4 April 2016 at dawn, when in Lesvos, Greece, the first wave of migrants were boarded onto two ferries heading to Dikili, a nearby town on Turkey’s coast.
For Syrian Refugees, the deal also includes a new one-in one-out system.
For every Syrian sent back to Turkey, another already in the country will be resettled directly to the EU.
In exchange of all this, Turkey was promised a number of generous benefits.
The EU will give 3 billion euros to help implement the process, while Turkish citizens will receive free travel within the Schengen Area by June. Last but no least, country’s negotiations to access the EU will be fast tracked.
For more information on the EU-Turkey Deal, read “EU-Turkey deal: is Europe doing the right thing?“
The Wave of Migrants is on the Move…
The deal aims to deter migrants from attempting perilous crossings to the Greek Islands and definitely close the so-called ‘Balkan route.’ As a result, migrants sea arrivals are increasing in Italy.
Nearly 6,200 migrants and refugees has reached Italy in April, while Greece had about 2,000 arrivals only in the same period. In March, migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey were over 26,000.
Arrivals in Italy so far this month are much lower than in April last year, when they reached 16,000. Yet the total for the first three months of the year rose 85%, compared with the corresponding period in 2015.
Fearing of being overwhelmed by increasing waves of migrants arriving from Italy, the Austrian Government has begun building a barrier on the border with Italy in order to limit migrants ‘ access through the Brenner Pass.
Read “EU Asks Austria for Explanations while Migrants Surge in Italy.” for more information on the situation at the border between Italy and Austria.
… or Maybe Not?
However, the situation might change again, as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu yesterday threatened to cancel its end of the deal if the EU wavered in its promises.
“The deal we struck with the EU is very clear. We want this human tragedy to end, our citizens to travel visa free, and the customs union to be updated,” he said in his speech.
“If the EU doesn’t keep its word, including the migrants deal we will cancel all agreements.”
Even if over 2,000 experts will be sent to Greece in order to help implement it, there are doubts that the deal can work in practice.
In fact, Greece’s national asylum service is struggling, overwhelmed by the surge of new applicants, and risks stalling the returns process to Turkey.