Erdogan warns EU over visa-free travel

Turkey’s President Erdogan says unless Turkish citizens gain visa-free travel to Schengen Zone, Turkish Parliament will block laws related to the readmission agreement on refugees.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a press conference on May 24, 2016, in Istanbul during the World Humanitarian Summit.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the European Union that the country’s parliament would block the readmission deal on refugees if Turkish citizens weren’t granted visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone.

"If that (the visa exemption) is not what will happen... no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the Parliament of the Turkish Republic," Erdogan said during a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Tuesday.

"Our Foreign Ministry and  EU Affairs Ministry will have discussions with the EU. If there is a result then great. If not, then I'm sorry."

Earlier this year, Turkey and the EU reached a landmark deal aimed at restricting mass movement of refugess into Europe. In return, the European bloc promised it would allow visa-free travel for Turkish nationals but under certain conditions.

During his speech, Erdogan emphasised that Latin American countries are not subject to such conditions as Turkey is for visa-free travel.

"Turkey, on the other hand, is a candidate country so why are you demanding these conditions, with all these question marks?" he said.

Erdogan also blamed the EU for breach of agreement regarding the payment of 3-billion euros to improve conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

"Turkey is not asking for favours what we want is honesty," he said.

"Turkey is supposed to fulfil criteria? What criteria is this I ask you?"  he added.

Turkey is currently hosting more than three million refugees which have already cost the country $1 billion since the start of the Syrian civil war.

Erdogan also said the summit will hopefully lead to a "rekindling" of the world's collective conscience, adding that "If it goes into history books as one of the countless meetings where nothing comes out... I will be very upset."​

TRTWorld and agencies