Turkey may have just delivered a huge blow to the EU-Turkey travel deal when its president made a firm announcement that his government will not change its terror laws. The European Commission had pressed Turkey to make changes to its existing anti-terrorism law on 2 May so as to enable Turkish citizens to travel to Europe for a short stay without obtaining a visa.
Responding to the Commission's conditions, which are part of the agreement, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 6 May said: "When Turkey is under attack from terrorist organisations and the powers that support them directly or indirectly, the EU is telling us to change the law on terrorism."
"They say 'I am going to abolish visas and this is the condition.' I'm sorry, we're going our way, you go yours. Agree with whoever you can agree," Reuters reported him as saying.
The conditional offer stated that Turkey's terrorism law needs to be on par with EU standards. The deal was in exchange for Turkey's help in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe from the Middle East.
Erdogan's response may result in the collapse of the travel deal. Besides, his critics claim, the president will only enjoy more powers with the stepping down of Ahmet Davutoglu as the prime minister of the country.
Commenting on Davutoglu's departure, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, said: "I hope that the future Turkish government — whoever will be the next prime minister — will continue that constructive line of cooperation for which Ahmet Davutoglu was very representative," the Guardian reported.
Although Davutoglu was the main negotiator of this migration deal with Europe, his departure will not change the scenario between Turkey and Europe, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has told Der Spiegel. "Agreements are negotiated with states and governments, not individuals."
Turkey is yet to meet five of the 72 criteria that EU insists on before Turkish citizens can travel visa-free to Europe. Of these, a strict terrorism law is one major clause.
The Daily Sabah newspaper had earlier quoted Turkey's EU minister Volkan Bozkir as saying that it was impossible for Turkey to further "make any revision to the legislation and practices on terrorism" as it doesn't "have the luxury of making these changes while the intensive fight against terrorism is ongoing."