Merkel prepared to cave to Turkish pressure on visas, British diplomats think

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is open to Turkish “blackmail,” seeking visa-free travel to the EU in return for Turkey taking back refugees expelled from Europe, a report says.

In a leaked diplomatic telegram, Britain’s Ambassador to Germany Sir Sebastian Wood wrote that German officials were ready to strike a “compromise formulation” with Turkey, the British Daily Telegraph reported.

Visa-free access to the EU is part of a deal reached between Turkey and the EU in March.

Under the deal, Ankara agreed to control the flood of refugees in return for privileges like accelerated talks on accession to the EU and billions of dollars in financial aid.

For weeks, the EU and Ankara have been locked in a standoff after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to rewrite sweeping anti-terrorism laws – a precondition of a visa-free travel.

Turkey has defended its anti-terror laws used to prosecute academics and journalists, citing the current security problems it has in its volatile south.

“Despite the tough public line, there are straws in the wind to suggest that in extremis the Germans would compromise further to preserve the EU-Turkey deal,” Sir Sebastian wrote.

The visa waiver deal had been due to kick in on July 1, and there were fears that Erdogan would increase refugee flows if he did not get his way.


According to Sir Sebastian, Berlin thinks it can “keep Erdogan at the table” and keep “the deal in play through the summer spike” with a “carefully fudged delay on both sides until October.”

However, a diplomatic telegram from Richard Moore, the British ambassador to Turkey, said, “If visa liberalization doesn’t happen, an impetuous and riled Erdogan – prone to come out fighting when he feels ‘betrayed’ – could carry through his threat to ‘open the floodgates’ to Europe for migrants.”

Concerns over the potential collapse of the deal with Turkey have reportedly prompted EU officials to consider a “plan B” — striking a similar deal with Greece, instead of Turkey.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria, and attempt entry into Europe without applying for a visa. The influx has crippled the bloc, particularly the countries on its external borders.


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