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Turkey PM pressures Merkel on visa-free travel in migrant deal

AFP , Saturday 23 Apr 2016
Turkish PM
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a picture with refugees in Nizip refugee camp near Gaziantep, Turkey, April 23, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
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Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pressured German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials on Saturday to deliver on a promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens key to the success of a migrant deal.

"The issue of the visa waiver is vital for Turkey," he said at a joint news conference with Merkel, European Council head Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.

Merkel is on a high-stakes visit to Turkey aimed at boosting a six-billion-euro ($6.7 billion) deal plagued by moral and legal concerns to return migrants arriving on Greek shores to Turkey.

Ties between Germany and Turkey are strained following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's warning that the deal would fall through if the EU did not keep up its end of the bargain by allowing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.

The bloc promised to present a visa recommendation on May 4 if Ankara complies with its side of the accord, but there has been growing unease in Europe over fears that security concerns are being fudged to fast-track Turkey's application.

At the same time, Tusk heaped high praise on Turkey for its reception of Syrian refugees, saying the country served as "the best example" in the world on caring for those fleeing war.

"Today Turkey is the best example for the whole world (on) how we should treat refugees," he said at a press conference.

"This is not only a political and formal assessment... this is also my very private and personal feeling," he said.

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