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Turkey Threatens to Lift Migrant Blockade to Europe

The Turkish Foreign Minister has said that his country is prepared to once again allow migrants passage into Europe if Turks are not permitted to travel in the European Union (EU) without visas.

Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN Turk television Saturday that the EU’s failure to uphold its part of the agreement entered into last March jeopardized Turkey’s will to keep migrants from crossing through Turkey into Greece.

Turkey will present a final text to EU leaders, Cavusoglu said, “and either it will all be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented.”

This is not Turkey’s first threat to release droves of migrants into the European Union.

Last August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warned that he was ready to reopen migrant routes from Turkey into Europe, a move that could mean an influx of as many as 3 million migrants into the EU.

“The European Union is not acting sincerely with Turkey,” Erdogan said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde. “We have taken in 3 million refugees, whereas the EU’s only concern is keeping them out of its territory.”

Turkey has exploited the prospect of waves of millions of migrants into Europe to pressure Brussels into allowing Turkish citizens to enter Europe freely without visas, which is seen as a first step toward eventual Turkish membership in the EU.

Erdogan has insisted that the waiving of Europe’s visa requirement was meant to go into effect simultaneously with the agreement regarding Turkeys’ blocking of migrants from entering EU states, particularly Greece.

“If our demands are not met, readmissions will no longer be possible,” Erdogan warned.

In March 2016, Turkey and the EU made a pact to stem a the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for billions of euros in aid to Turkey and the lifting of short-term visa requirements on Turkish citizens.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

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