14:43 GMT18 January 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    The Turkish Government has summoned the chief envoy for the European Union over comments he has made which are seen to be disparaging towards Ankara amid stalled talks over the controversial migrant deal.

    Talks between Ankara and the EU over the proposed migrant deal for "irregular migrants" to be returned to Turkey from Greece have stumbled over conditions the EU wants Turkey to meet in return for visa-free access for its citizens to the Schengen zone.

    Chief among these is the requirement for the Turkish government to change its anti-terror laws that have been used to silence journalists, media outlets and critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which Turkey has flatly refused to do.

    In a sign of the tensions, the chief EU ambassador conducting the negotiations, Hansjörg Haber, was reported in the newspaper Hurriyet, as saying:

    "We have a proverb, 'To start like a Turk and end like a German,' but it has been just the opposite here [in these negotiations]. It started like a German and is being finished like a Turk."

    His comments forced the Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır to say: "The German ambassador of the EU should explain to the Turkish nation what he meant when he said 'like a German and like a Turk.' No diplomat and especially no ambassador can address the president of a country where he is posted for his job like this.

    "An ambassador does not have the right to humiliate the country and people where he is located and say a word against the president. This is the first principle of diplomacy," said Bozkır.

    Not a Safe Country

    The row is the latest in a series of setback over the migrant deal, which would see relocated migrants from Greece being swapped on a one-for-one basis with Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey, who would be relocated to EU member states. However, so far fewer than 200 have actually been relocated from Greece.

    Many humanitarian aid NGOs have joined the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in saying the EU-Turkey deal is either immoral or illegal as the 'hotspots' have become detention centers. They also say Turkey is not a 'safe country' for migrants to be returned to, under the Geneva Convention.

    EU lawmakers on the Civil Liberties Committee MEPs have repeatedly quizzed the EU Commission about the conditions in the Greek reception centers, the number and background of staff conducting asylum interviews and the return of migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey.

    They are especially concerned about the situation of vulnerable groups, such as women with children and unaccompanied minors.

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

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    Tags:
    Schengen area, hotspots, migrant crisis, negotiations, human rights, migrants, refugees, diplomacy, EU-Turkey migrant deal, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), European Parliament, European Union, Hansjörg Haber, Volkan Bozkir, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany, Turkey, Greece
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