A prominent figure in the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc said on Sunday (20 March) that a deal between the European Union and Turkey to halt illegal immigration to Europe could lead to Kurds heading to Germany en masse.
The deal agreed on Friday envisages Turkey taking back all illegal migrants who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, while the EU accepts an equal number of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and gives the Turks funds, visa-free travel rights and accelerated EU membership negotiations.
All migrants and refugees arriving in Greece from this Sunday (20 March) will be returned to Turkey, under a controversial agreement hammered out over two days between the EU and Ankara at a summit in Brussels.
“It could ultimately lead to more immigration, especially if you take visa freedom into account. Many, many Kurds fleeing the Turkish government could come to Germany,” Markus Söder, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and finance minister for the state of Bavaria, told German public broadcaster ZDF.
The Turkish government has banned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
CSU leader Horst Seehofer told newspaper Bild am Sonntag the deal between the EU and Turkey was “not a breakthrough, but rather an intermediate step on the way to a sustainable European solution” and added there was a danger of Germany bearing the greatest burden for taking in refugees again.
He said the CSU, which has long been sceptical of Ankara’s bid to join the EU, would not agree to giving Turkey full EU membership or complete visa freedom because that would “import Turkey’s domestic problems to Germany”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vehemently criticised Belgium for allowing pro-Kurdish protesters to demonstrate in Brussels. He said that Europe was “dancing in a minefield” by directly or indirectly supporting “terror” groups.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded by saying that the statements by the Turkish President were offensive for Belgium.