The Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, Dr Alan Mendoza, has warned that the EU must not be seen to buckle under Turkish demands over a deal to tackle the ongoing Mediterranean migrant crisis.
Turkey has said it will not progress the agreement on refugee readmission unless the EU lifts visa requirements for Turkish citizens without any further conditions. The country was offered visa free access to the EU, as well as €6bn to help with Syrian refugees, in return for preventing migrants from travelling to Europe and taking back those who have already illegally made the crossing. For every migrant returned to Turkey, the EU has agreed to accept a registered refugee.
However before a visa waiver can come into force at the end of next month, Turkey has been asked to meet five conditions set out by the EU, already dramatically reduced from an initial 72 demands, including narrowing the definition of terrorism, something opposed by President Erdogan while Turkish security forces are engaged in renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the south-east of the country.
Dr Mendoza argues that relaxing those conditions while permitting a visa waiver for Turkey could significantly harm the EU’s credibility during the UK referendum debate.
“Turkey is already getting an outrageously good deal in exchange for its complicity in a refugee and migrant crisis largely of Europe’s own making. It really isn’t too much to ask that the Turks comply with all of the conditions set for allowing visa-free travel.
“The EU’s credibility is on the line here: if it doesn’t defend its own rules and regulations then how can it expect to inspire any confidence in those considering voting Remain in the UK’s EU referendum?”