22:49 GMT31 July 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    The EU ambassador to Turkey, Hansjörg Haber has resigned less than a month after being slammed by the Turkish Government for derogatory remarks about the Ankara leadership and failure to win concessions over reforms to the country's anti-terror laws.

    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. The deal is contingent with Turkish citizens being given visa-free access 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, Hansjorg Haber, in May 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.

    Work in Progess

    The row is the latest in a series of setbacks 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, in the last month only 780 have actually been relocated from Greece — far short of the 6,000 a month the European Commission had wanted.

    Many humanitarian aid agencies and 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.

    ​In a news conference Wednesday (June 15), Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship told reporters: "Let's be realistic and honest. We cannot expect Greece to have a properly functioning asylum system with more than 50,000 asylum seekers on their way".

    "Yes, we have seen some progress. Irregular arrivals from Turkey have decreased drastically as the average daily number of irregular crossing in May was 47.  Since March 290, 462 irregular migrants who have not applied for asylum have so far been returned from Turkey from Greece. 511 have been resettled from Turkey to European Union under the one-for-one mechanism," Avramopoulos said.

    However, he admitted that more work had to be done on the EU-Turkey deal. "In certain areas, work needs to be done. Both sides have to deliver and uphold their commitments. Turkey still needs to fulfil the remaining [parts] of the roadmap."

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    Greece, Brussels, Ankara, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Volkan Bozkir, Hansjörg Haber, European Union, European Commission, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), EU-Turkey migrant deal, diplomacy, refugees, politics, migrant crisis, refugee camps, refugee deal
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