France’s Hollande opposes to visa liberalisation for Turkey

French President Francois Hollande says his country has problems with recent European Union-Turkey deal on refugee crisis indicating that visa liberalisation for Ankara should not be part of agreement

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French President Francois Hollande speaks to journalists at the end of a gathering of European Social Democrat leaders at the Elysee palace in Paris on March 12, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande has declared an upfront opposition against the recent European Union (EU)-Turkey agreement on growing refugee crisis describing visa liberalisation talks with Turkey as a "concession."

“Compensations are planned (...), but there should be no concessions with regards to human rights or criteria to liberalise visas,” Hollande told journalists following a summit with European social-democrat leaders in Paris on Saturday.

The EU has offered Turkey 6 billion euros in aid to curb refugee flow. Under the draft deal struck on Monday, Turkey also received promises of faster visa liberalisation for Turks travelling to Europe and a speeding up of Ankara's long-stalled EU membership talks.

The aim of the deal is to discourage refugees and break the grip of human smugglers who have sent them on perilous journeys across the Aegean Sea. But refugees have continued to try crossing from Turkey's coast in recent days.

“Turkey is demanding an acceleration of the process of visa liberalisation. We want to make sure this [refugee deal] doesn’t imply a softening of the conditions attached to it,” Financial Times reported, quoting an anonymous French diplomat.

Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's closest European partner, has minimised his commitment to take in refugees due to security fears since last November's deadly DAESH attacks in the capital Paris.

He also has fears of the rise of far-right anti-immigration leader Marine Le Pen who has challenged his main policies in a tough language as new presidential elections have been approaching in the country.

Meanwhile, Portugal's divided parliament may refuse to approve Lisbon's contribution to new bailout loans for Greece and an EU aid package to help Turkey deal with deepening refugee crisis, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said after the European Socialist summit on Saturday.

Costa told journalists the two far-left parties - the Left Bloc and the Communists - that back his minority Socialist government had long opposed the payments and could vote against them.

The main opposition Social Democrats had also said they would reject the aid, Costa said, a stance he called an "irresponsible" change in their past support for the package.

Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion of its own resources on the refugees, whose number in the country has been climbing to a record 2.8 million people.

During the brutal Syrian civil war nearly 8 million people have been displaced inside the country while about 5 million have fled to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

TRTWorld, Reuters