Turkey Casts Doubt on 2016 Migrant Deal

Turkey has rebuffed any suggestion of an associate membership of the European Union, as its EU minister on Friday warned a 2016 migrant deal with the bloc was under threat.

Speaking to Reuters in London, Omer Celik said anything short of full EU membership was unacceptable to Ankara.

He also said Europe was not maintaining its side of a 2016 deal in which Turkey would accept failed asylum-seekers back on its territory in exchange for billions of euros in funding and visa liberalization for Turkish nationals.

The Turkish minister was quoted as saying: “Technically there’s no reason for Turkey to maintain this deal.”

Celik made similar comments last week, saying Turkey would not accept “second-class status”.

Ankara’s hopes of full EU membership seemed to flounder recently when French President Emmanuel Macron, during a Jan. 5 meeting with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said there was no chance of Ankara joining at the present time.

Turkey first went for EU membership in 1987 and formal talks to join the bloc began in 2005.

However, ties with Europe have been frequently strained over the Cyprus issue, plus European concerns about democratic standards in Turkey.