23:46 GMT24 May 2020
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    The EU-Turkey migrant deal is inching closer to collapse, Turkey's minister in charge of EU integration Omer Celik said on Tuesday, in Ankara.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Cigdem Nas, Associate Professor of Political Science and International relations at Yildiz Technical University.

    "I don't think it [i.e., the end of the agreement] is possible at the moment, because the migrant deal has progress so far. We have achieved some results and now the EU has also published its report on the refugee facilities in Turkey which concerns this three billion euros assistance. We have seen that about two billion have already been used for the projects to support refugees in Turkey. So, there is already the ongoing cooperation," the expert told Radio Sputnik.

    At the same time, Nas noted that the countries failed to achieve any progress in the areas that have been of special interest to Turkey.

    "One of the most important areas was, of course, visa liberalization. The Commission of the European Union, in May last year, proposed to lift the visa barrier for Turkish citizens," the expert recalled. "However, we haven't seen progress in the visa liberalization. We expected the lifting of the visas in October last year and there is still no progress on that front," she added.

    One of the other main issues was Turkey's accession to the EU. However, there were no positive results in this area as well, the expert noted. According to her, the main reason behind the difficulties in the implementation of these provisions was a disagreement between EU and Turkish authorities over certain political issues.

    "One of the most contentious issues was the revision of Turkey's anti-terror legislation. The EU demanded from Turkey to change the legislation in order to allow some more room for freedom of expression and crimes that not really concern terror activities," Nas said.

    With regard to EU demands, Turkish authorities explained their inability to make any revisions to its anti-terrorist legislation due to their struggle against different terrorist organizations, the expert noted. Earlier, Turkish minister on EU integration Omer Celik described the deal as one-sided, adding that Turkey is under no obligation to continue implementing it.

    The controversial and widely criticized EU-Turkey agreement on migrants entered into force last March. Under the accord, Ankara agreed to help Brussels stop illegal migrants from reaching the continent in exchange for financial aid, accelerated EU accession talks and visa-free regime. However, according to Turkish officials, the bloc did not keep its promises to Ankara.

    According to Nas, "Turkey could challenge the EU and say that the refugee deal also concerned these other issues, like visa liberalization and accession negotiations.


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