European Commission 'committed' to refugee pact

European Commission spokesman says EU will stick with 2016 refugee deal struck with Turkey

European Commission 'committed' to refugee pact

World Bulletin / News Desk

- European Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Thursday the European body would stick to the 2016 refugee deal struck between the European Union and Turkey.

Speaking at a daily news conference in Brussels, Schinas said: "We remain committed to the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."

His remarks came after Turkey's EU minister Omer Celik suggested earlier this week Ankara was reconsidering the deal.

"Turkey has no obligation at this stage to continue [with] the agreement since the EU has failed to comply with it," Celik told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday. 

Under the EU-Turkey readmission agreement signed in March 2016, Ankara is supposed to readmit all irregular asylum seekers who reach Greek islands from Turkey.

But visa liberalization for Turkish citizens travelling to Schengen zone countries was one of the key EU promises made under the deal.

Turkey has so far met most of the requirements for visa liberalization, but the EU’s demands for change in Ankara’s anti-terrorism laws led to a deadlock in negotiations.

Turkish authorities repeatedly said the refugee deal could collapse if the EU fails to provide Ankara with the promised visa reforms.

Now, after Saturday's Dutch blockade of Turkish ministers who were due to meet expats in Rotterdam ahead of Turkey’s upcoming April 16 referendum, the issue is on the agenda again. 

Schinas said: "We expect that both sides will comply with their commitment as it is to the equal interest and benefits of both sides, and also for the Syrian refugees."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mart 2017, 18:30