World Bulletin / News Desk
The EU-Turkey deal that has substantially reduced the flow of migrants to Europe "must be respected and will be", said European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in an interview published Saturday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Friday to walk away from the agreement, speaking a day after the European Parliament angered Ankara by backing a freeze of its EU accession talks.
"We made an agreement, it must be respected and it will be," Juncker told Belgium's La Libre Belgique newspaper.
He pointed to the period from 2003-2014 while Erdogan was prime minister, when Turkey "made a lot of progress in terms of the quality of its democracy". But in the past two years, the country has "distanced itself from European principles and values," Juncker said.
"I believe that Erdogan and his government are in the process of 'pre-blaming' Europe for the failure of its accession negotiations," he added.
In a separate interview to EuroNews, Juncker said that Europe needed to remain humble, and said that "Turkey is an important partner not only because of migration crisis – this aspect is obvious – but because it houses on its territory more than three million migrants and refugees, which Europe for its part doesn’t do. So I would like Europe to refrain from giving lessons to Turkey on that matter. Turkey does much more than Europe, as do Jordan and Lebanon. So, we need to be humble when we speak on those issues."
On March 18, Ankara and Brussels forged a deal for Turkey to halt the flow of migrants to Europe -- an accord that has largely been successful in reducing numbers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just over 171,000 have crossed to Greece so far this year, much lower than the comparable figure for 2015 of almost 740,000.
Hundreds of migrants drowned while trying to cross the Aegean in 2015 on unseaworthy boats, including three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi. The images of his lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach spurred the international community into action.
Juncker pointed out that the leaders of the 28 EU nations have the final say on Turkey's bid to join the bloc and not the European Parliament.
Still, he said Thursday's vote was a "warning sign that Turkey should not underestimate".
afpLast Mod: 27 Kasım 2016, 11:43