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France's Hollande vows ‘no concessions’ to Turkey on rights, visas

© Mustafa Ozer, AFP | Turkey has secured a pledge to revive talks on its accession to the European Union.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-12

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that the EU must not grant Turkey any concessions on human rights or visas in exchange for guarantees to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

"There cannot be any concessions on the matter of human rights or the criteria for visa liberalisation," Hollande told reporters ahead of the resumption next week of tough negotiations between Turkey and the EU in Brussels.

Under a controversial draft deal reached this week, Turkey would take back all migrants landing in Greece in a bid to reduce their incentive to pay people smugglers for dangerous crossings to the Greek islands in rickety boats.

In return for every Syrian sent back from Greece, the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey – which is hosting about 2.7 million people who have fled the conflict across the border.

Turkey is also demanding six billion euros ($6.6 billion) in aid, visa-free access for its nationals within Europe's passport-free Schengen zone and for swifter action to process its bid to join the EU.

Criticism of draft deal

The plan to expel migrants en masse from Greece has sparked international criticism, with the UN's top officials on refugees and human rights questioning whether it would be legal.

Officials have also expressed concern over the potential need for compromise with Ankara, as fears grow over freedom of expression and rights abuses under the rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Hollande, speaking in Paris after talks with several left-wing leaders from around Europe, called for more “clarification and transparency” in discussions with Turkey.

The French president also said "there must be protection of the [EU’s] external borders" to avoid the re-establishment of new internal borders in Schengen – a reference to steps taken by individual member states to reintroduce border controls in a bid to keep migrants at bay.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

Date created : 2016-03-12

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