Turkey threatens to end migrant deal with EU amid spat
ANKARA, Turkey (AP):
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened yesterday to scrap a deal with the European Union to readmit migrants who have crossed illegally into Europe, amid a stand-off with European nations over their reluctance to allow Turkish ministers to hold campaign rallies in their countries.
In a feisty campaign speech in northwest Turkey, Erdogan said the EU could "forget about" the deal, in which Ankara agreed to readmit migrants who had reached Greece illegally via Turkey - a key transit country for tens of thousands trying to flee fighting and poverty and enter Europe. In return, the EU was to grant Turkish citizens the right to travel to many European countries visa-free.
BITTER DIPLOMATIC SPAT
The comments were the latest in Turkey's bitter diplomatic spat with Germany and the Netherlands, which last week prevented two Turkish ministers from addressing Turkish citizens in Rotterdam in the lead-up to a referendum on constitutional reforms that would increase Erdogan's powers. One minister was escorted out to the country, while the other was denied permission to land. Some German authorities have also blocked appearances by Turkish ministers trying to attend similar rallies.
On Thursday, Erdogan reiterated angry criticism of the ban. He also accused the EU of not sticking to a promise to grant Turkish nationals the right to travel visa-free in Europe.