EU warns Turkey on visa-free travel deal collapse over terror law, - WSJ

A deal to grant Turks visa-free access to the European Union — part of a joint effort to end Europe’s migrant crisis — will collapse if Ankara fails to change terror laws the EU argues are being used to silence the government’s domestic critics.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday at a conference in Berlin, Censor.NET reports citing The Wall Street Journal.

"We have conducted negotiations with Turkey…we have set conditions regarding visa liberalization," Mr. Juncker said.

"We put great emphasis on the need to meet these conditions. Otherwise, the deal between the European Union and Turkey won't happen," he said. "If Mr. Erdogan is pursuing a strategy of denying Turks the right to free travel to Europe then he has to answer for this to the Turkish people. This is not my problem, this will be his problem."

Turkish officials shot back at their EU counterparts Thursday, charging European parliamentarians and the commission with double-dealing on the issue of Ankara's tough counterterrorism laws.

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Speaking to reporters in televised remarks from Strasbourg after meeting with EU lawmakers, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir denied that visa-free travel for Turks had been tied to the condition that Ankara broadly revamp its antiterrorism laws. With more than 450 members of the Turkish security forces killed in fighting with Kurdish insurgents since July, it is impossible for Turkey to loosen its terrorism definitions as demanded by the EU, he said.

"We will not revise antiterrorism laws even if it costs us the [EU] not lifting visas," Mr. Bozkir said. He added that Turkey had met all 72 requirements for visa-free travel from a political perspective.

Mr. Erdogan also took a swipe at the EU for demanding changes to Ankara's antiterrorism laws, and accused Europeans of stoking Kurdish separatism in Turkey.

The Turkish president has repeatedly ruled out revisions to counterterrorism measures in recent days and said that the EU and Turkey can go their separate ways if Brussels doesn't deliver its promises.

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Yet Mr. Erdogan also threw a four-month lifeline to negotiations earlier this week, saying he hoped the EU would complete the visa-free travel deal by October. The deal reached in March had made the end of June the target date for approving the visa waiver.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has warned that it won't approve visa-free travel for Turkey until the counterterrorism law was changed.

Privately, EU officials said they doubted that the confrontation would spell the end of the migration deal.Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/n388220