World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Commission considers it important for the conditions set by the EU to be fulfilled by Turkey, otherwise there will be no deal on lifting visa requirements, Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.
Speaking at a meeting in Germany, Juncker said they expect Turkey to abide by the conditions the EU has set.
"That's how we agreed it with Turkey," said Juncker, adding the recent announcement by Turkey’s premier that he would end his term early cannot result in Turkey “backing out of the deal."
Pointing to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks saying the nation’s anti-terrorism law cannot be changed, contrary to the EU’s conditions, Juncker said, "We put great value in the conditions being met. Otherwise this deal, the agreement between the EU and Turkey, won't happen. If [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan decides to deny Turks the right to free travel to Europe, then he must explain this to the Turkish people."
Schulz: The EU Parliament awaits Turkey’s steps
Meanwhile, European Parliament President Martin Schulz sought to tone down the sometimes-confrontational rhetoric.
Addressing a press conference in Berlin, Schulz said the European Parliament is committed to the EU-Turkey agreement to address the refugee crisis.
“Visa liberalization is an important, basic component of the EU-Turkey agreement to better manage the refugee influx. As the European Parliament, we stand behind this agreement,” Schulz said.
He underlined that once Turkey fulfills its commitments for visa liberalization, the EP will also begin procedures for the approval process.
“We also believe that mutual understanding is much better than mutual threats,” he added.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas also told a daily press conference that the deal between Turkey and EU is not "dead".
Citing the deal reached by both sides, Schinas reiterated that they would continue working with Turkey.
Last week, the European Commission proposed visa-free travel for Turks as part of a deal which would also see Turkey stem the refugee flow to Europe in exchange for speeding up the candidate country’s EU membership.
In addition, the deal included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country.
However, among five remaining benchmarks for Turkey to address in order to receive visa freedom, the EU has required a change in Ankara's legislation on terrorism – a demand that Erdogan has criticized and rejected.
"We will go our way; you go yours," Erdogan said last week. "The EU is telling us to change our law on combatting terrorism. [They] are allowing terrorists to raise tents and then [they] come with requirements.
Erdogan was referring to a controversial tent raised in March by PKK supporters near the European Council building in Brussels. The PKK is listed a terrorist organization by the EU, the U.S., and Turkey.