Friday 20 April 2018

Merkel tries to defuse row over Turkey threat to 'open migrant floodgates'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters

Michael Nienaber

The European Union and Turkey must honour their commitments to one other, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said in an effort to settle a row over migration.

She spoke last Friday - a day after members of the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to freeze talks on Turkey joining the bloc, following Ankara's crackdown on dissents after a failed coup in July.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip threatened to unleash a wave of migrants on Europe in response to the resolution.

He suggested he might scrap a deal to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants inside his borders in return for the promise of accelerated EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe, and financial aid.

Mrs Merkel told members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party during a regional conference in the northern city of Neumuenster that the deal had helped to control the influx of migrants and fight human trafficking

She added: "The refugee deal with Turkey, I think, this agreement is in the mutual interest of both sides. And that's why we as Europeans must meet our commitments and Turkey must do the same."

Asked by a CDU member if she had an alternative plan in case the deal with Ankara should fall apart, Mrs Merkel said: "I have no plan B... it's difficult but I'm working hard to make sure that this plan is being implemented.

"I'm working hard to make sure we reach similar agreements with other countries."

Most other EU states back continued engagement with Turkey, despite their concerns about its human rights record.

Turkish authorities have detained or dismissed more than 125,000 people - including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders - over their alleged backing of the coup. Opponents, rights groups and some Western allies have said it is an attempt to crush all dissent.

Meanwhile, Australia is attempting to extradite from Turkey a man suspected of being a recruiter for the Islamic State movement, the government said yesterday.

Before his capture it was thought Neil Prakash, also known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, had been killed by a US air strike in May in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

At the time of the false reports, the Australian government described him as "the most dangerous Australian" involved with the extremist movement in the Middle East.

© Associated Press

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