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Speaking at a joint press conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Ankara on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mesut Cavusoglu (pictured above, second from left) said his government had informed Berlin that German lawmakers would be permitted to visit the Incirlik air base where Bundeswehr soldiers are stationed. The parliamentarians had been banned from the air base after Berlin passed a resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians “genocide.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the statement, saying the decision signaled Turkey’s willingness to return to discussions.

“I am very glad that this issue now seems to be solved,” Steinmeier said. “All efforts should be focused on fighting [Islamic State], and the German presence at the Incirlik air base is part of the German contribution.”

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg assured Turkey of the bloc’s support, saying, “Turkey is a strong and highly esteemed member of the NATO, and will continue to remain so…If the coup had been successful, it would have been catastrophic not only for Turkey, but also for the entire alliance.”

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday he believes Turkey and the European Union can come to an agreement on a key Turkish demand to ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe.
Turkey had threatened to scrap a pivotal deal with the EU on stemming the flow of migrants heading from Turkey to Europe if the EU failed to fulfill by October a promise to grant Turkish citizens the right to visa-free travel as well as deliver funds to help improve conditions for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Plans to loosen visa rules came to a standstill after Turkey balked at softening its anti-terrorism laws, part of a list of criteria the country is required to fulfill by the EU. Turkey has said it cannot amend terrorism laws while it is facing increased security threats. EU countries want to ensure Turkey cannot use those laws to target academics and journalists.

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A European Union commissioner has expressed “understanding” for Turkey amid ongoing demands by Brussels for Turkey to change its anti-terror law as part of the visa-free travel deal for Turkish citizens inside the EU.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, told Germany’s Tagesspiel newspaper on July 10 that there is “pressure on Turkey” in its fight against terrorism.

“We should not underestimate the fact that there is enormous pressure on the shoulders of the Turkish government in its fight against terrorism,” Avramopoulos said. Continue Reading »

Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured a southern province close to the Syrian border and announced a new plan to cope with the huge population of Syrian refugees in the country.

“We are going to help our Syrian friends in offering them the chance, if they want it, to acquire Turkish nationality,” he told a group of Syrian refugees in the city of Kilis. “We regard you as our brothers and sisters. You are not far from your homeland, but only from your homes and your land. … Turkey is also your homeland.” Continue Reading »

Turkey’s stalled European Union accession process is set to move forward with the opening of a new chapter on financial and budgetary provisions on June 30 as promised to Ankara in return for its cooperation on stemming the flow of refugees from Syria.  Continue Reading »

Less than 48 hours before Thursday’s historic EU referendum, it emerged EU members will meet with Ankara on June 30 to discuss a host of affairs including finance and budget. Continue Reading »

As part of the refugee deal between the European Union and Turkey, which included 3 billion euros of financial assistance over two years, money has started to flow from EU safe boxes to Turkey.  Continue Reading »

Turkey remains committed to closer ties with the European Union despite strains in the relationship, and wants to deepen a customs union to become the bloc’s third largest trade partner, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said in an interview. Continue Reading »

Forecast

  • Turkey, putting its own political and security interests ahead of the migrant deal, will refuse to meet some of the European Union’s conditions for visa liberalization.
  • Because Brussels has few alternatives for reducing Europe’s migrant burden, it will make security concessions to Ankara to finalize the deal.
  • Turkey will use the fact that the deal is more important to Europe to gain additional political advantages from the Continent in exchange for hosting its migrants.

Analysis

As conflict throughout the Middle East and North Africa continues unabated, the influx of migrants from the war-torn region is putting more and more strain on Europe. Hoping to lighten its load, the European Union has turned to Turkey for help. According to the tentative deal struck between the two on March 18, Brussels will give Ankara an extra $3 billion in aid, accelerate its EU membership talks and ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens by the end of June. In return, Ankara has agreed to keep migrants from passing through its borders and into the Continent and to take back any migrants who traveled to Europe after the deal’s implementation March 20. Finally, to discourage illegal immigration from Syria, the parties have worked out a system whereby the European Union will resettle one legal Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian non-refugee deported from Greece.

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The agreement between the European Union and Turkey remains Germany’s top priority in addressing the refugee crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said on May 9. Continue Reading »

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