04:05 GMT21 February 2020
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted "Grave concerns" over the EU-Turkey migrant deal ahead of talks in Ankara Monday (May 23), as the whole question of Turkey’s membership of the European Union sparked a row in the UK over Brexit.

    Merkel drew criticism after negotiating the controversial EU-Turkey migrant deal in an effort to persuade Turkey to stop the flow of migrant across its borders into Greece, Bulgaria and the West Balkans.

    Under the deal, "irregular migrants" in Greece – those deemed ineligible for asylum – are returned to Turkey in return – on a one-for-one basis – for a Syrian refugee being relocated from refugee camps in Syria to EU member states. The deal has drawn criticism from humanitarian agencies who say the camps where migrants are processed are – in effect – detention centers, which is against international law.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
    © REUTERS / Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace
    ​Moreover, they say Turkey is not a "safe country" under the Geneva Conventions, because its refugee camps are not well enough resourced and refugees are not being given high enough levels of shelter, health provision and aid.

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    However, the most controversial element of the deal Merkel brokered was for Turks to have visa-free access to the Schengen zone by June 2016 and for Turkey’s accession into the EU to be accelerated. Critics point to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's record on oppression of the Kurds, human rights and press freedoms.

    On Sunday (May 22) Erdogan appointed Binali Yildirim – co-founder of the ruling AK Party and close ally for decades – as his new prime minister, consolidating his grip on power.

    "Naturally some developments in Turkey are a source of great concern for us," Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish migrant deal entered the Brexit debate, with anti-EU campaigners claiming the accession of Turkey is an example of the dysfunctionality of the EU.

    Armed Forces Minister and anti-EU campaigner Penny Mourdant told the BBC it was "very likely" Turkey would join the EU in the next eight years.

    But UK Prime Minister David Cameron hit back, putting Ankara's EU accession likelihood at "about the year 3000," while campaigning in favor of remaining within the European Union at the June 23 In-Out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

     

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    Tags:
    Turkish Kurds, EU-accession, migrant crisis, Brexit, EU membership, human rights, politics, refugees, EU-Turkey migrant deal, European Union, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, David Cameron, Europe, Turkey, Ankara, Greece
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