01:51 GMT31 March 2020
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    The EU-Turkey agreement on migration was and remains absolutely right, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday. At the same time, the German leader stressed that she does not see Turkey as a member of the European Union.

    In an interview with Sputnik France, political expert and professor with the University of Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, Samim Akgonul commented on whether Turkey is likely find a strategic alternative to joining the EU.

    "Turkey has been looking for alternative geostrategic partners for a long time. It became closer with Russia, especially after Russia's participation in the resolution of the Syrian conflict. (…) In this sense, Turkey wanted to become a member of the Shanghai bloc, led by Russia and China. However, no other alliances can replace ties with the EU, which is already Turkey's main economic partner. Thus, to establish a closer relationship with someone else would be difficult," Akgonul told Sputnik.

    In March 2016, the European Union and Turkey agreed that Syrian refugees arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey if their claim for asylum was rejected, while Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey would be resettled in Europe on a one-for-one basis. In return, Ankara received $6.4 billion in financial aid and major concessions on EU membership and travel.

    The agreement was supposed to address the overwhelming influx of migrants and refugees to Europe. However, the deal came under increasing threat due to the souring of relations between Brussels and Ankara.

    "It was obvious from the very beginning that the migration deal [between Turkey and the EU] would not work. Ankara wanted to use the Syrian crisis to pressure the EU to achieve its political goals and financial benefits. And in Europe, in particular — in the West, right and far-right politicians were afraid of refugees. We can say that both sides just sold their souls to sign this agreement. It is very likely that sooner or later it [the deal] will be declared null and void," the expert said.

    Turkey has been striving to become a member of the European Union for decades, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that she doesn't see Turkey as a part of the bloc. She noted that Berlin cannot stop the talks on Turkey's accession, but it would impose punitive economic measures in response to the recent arrest of German citizens.

    According to Akgonul, Turkey would want Germany and France to openly declare their intention to end the negotiations on Turkey's accession to the European Union.

    "However, from a technical point of view it is not easy to interrupt the talks. This can be seen on Brexit's example — it is difficult to get out of the European Union, as well as stop being a candidate for membership in it. Although, of course, from political point of view, the prospects of Turkey's accession to the EU are extremely tiny," the analyst concluded.

    Earlier, German Chancellor stated that Berlin could put pressure on Ankara in terms of the economy, in particular by issuing a stricter warning to those who wanted to visit the country and by introducing restrictions on loans from the European Central Bank, World Bank, Hermes covers and export credit guarantees issued by the German government.

    Angela Merkel also said that the decision to sign the EU-Turkey migration agreement in 2016 was absolutely correct and the deal is still viable today.


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    accession talks, deal, EU membership, migration, EU, Europe, Turkey
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