Davutoğlu ups pressure for visa-free travel

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on the EU to fulfil its promise of visa-free travel for Turks as early as June, stressing that otherwise Turkey couldn't be expected to fulfil its obligations vis-à-vis the EU. Will the EU let itself be blackmailed by Turkey because of the refugee deal?

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Právo (CZ) /

Ankara can't blackmail the EU

Ankara's threats to call off the refugee deal with the EU shouldn't be taken seriously, the Prague-based daily Právo comments:

“We keep hearing that the deal is disadvantageous for Europe because not only is Turkey demanding an exorbitant price for its help but it may also blackmail the EU. However, things aren't that simple. Turkey will think twice about pulling out of the deal even if it doesn't get visa-free travel. The billions of euros the EU promised it for taking better care of the refugees are no trifling matter for a country that is currently looking after two million refugees. Turkey needs that money. But even more decisive than the financial aid is the fact that the Balkan route is effectively blocked. Turkey may give the smugglers the green light once more. But the refugees wouldn't get any further than Greece. The demand for the smugglers' services wouldn't last long.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Visa-free travel would create dangerous precedent

Davutoğlu renewed his call for the lifting of visa requirements in the context of Merkel's and Tusk's visit to Turkey. The EU must not make any more concessions to Ankara, Le Figaro warns:

“Where does submission stop? Human rights are a handy excuse when it comes to putting your fate in the hands of a man who has had nearly 2,000 of his fellow citizens arraigned for 'insults' (as all criticism is termed). Giving in to him on visas would create a precedent that Ukraine, Georgia and even Kosovo - a self-proclaimed state with no legal basis - would not fail to exploit. Certainly, the refugee question demands cooperation with the states bordering on Syria, but neither Jordan nor Lebanon have resorted to the kind of blackmail that Turkey is now using. If Europe gives in instead of regaining control of its borders, the cost will be high indeed.”

Duma (BG) /

Ankara ruthlessly exploiting deal with EU

The daily paper Duma is dismayed by Davutoğlu's demands for visa-free travel in the next few months:

“The audacity of the Turkish leaders knows no limits. … So now we're supposed to kowtow to a country that is among those mainly responsible for the civil wars that are driving millions of people to flee. We're to pay tribute to Sultan Erdoğan because he holds the key to Europe's gates and has put Europe under such pressure that he can practically demand anything he wants. If Europe gives in once it will keep on giving in, he thinks. Democracy and the rule of law mean nothing to him. It's all nonsense as far as he's concerned. The EU needs Turkey, the president says. So the EU must dance to his tune.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Visa-free travel for Turks a pipedream for now

Milliyet doubts that the visa restrictions that apply for Turks in the Schengen Area will be lifted any time soon:

“Even if a miracle occurs and we manage to meet all the criteria the EU will still be reluctant to open its borders to us because European politicians who agree to this will be given a hard time in the next elections. Visa-free travel in June or even next November is an illusion. Clearly the relations are now tense because of this. Yet we could have suggested a transition phase before the introduction of visa-free travel. For example certain groups like scientists, athletes and artists could have been allowed to travel without a visa. … Or would we find it easier to allow the whole plan to come to a standstill once we have met the criteria and had a big row about the issue?”