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    A picture taken on March 16, 2017 shows policemen standing guard near migrants at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, almost a year after an EU-Turkey deal

    EU-Turkey Migrant Deal Keeps Working Despite Criticism - EU Commissioner

    © AFP 2019 / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
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    EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the Europan Union and Turkey were interested in strengthening bilateral relations and maintaining the migration treaty.

    BRUSSELS(Sputnik) — The EU-Turkey agreement on migration remains in operation despite harsh statements by senior officials, since it benefits both sides, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said Monday.

    "Despite recent harsh statements in the press, the EU-Turkey statement continues to work. European Union is and remains committed to the full implementation of all its elements," Avramopoulos said at a press conference.

    Avramopoulos noted that both sides were interested in strengthening bilateral relations and maintaining the migration treaty.

    "The partnership between the European Union and Turkey is long-standing and goes beyond migration. It is to the interest and benefit of both to maintain and strengthen it," Avramopoulos said.

    Turkey and the European Union agreed on a deal in March 2016, under which Ankara pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in EU states through its territory in exchange for the accommodation of Syrian refugees on a one-for-one basis in Turkey. In August 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara would withdraw from the deal if the European Union failed to grant a visa waiver for Turkish citizens.

    The relations between the Turkey and a number of the European countries, particularly, Germany, worsened recently after German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was arrested in Istanbul in February over alleged links to a terrorist organization and terrorist propaganda, while several Ankara's pre-referendum rallies, aimed at gaining support from Turkish expats for a constitutional change increasing the president's powers, were canceled in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In response to the rally bans, Erdogan compared German and later Dutch authorities to Nazis.

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    migrants, European Union, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Turkey
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