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Berlin: Turkey visa liberalization 'not a done deal'

German ministers have said the EU won't lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens if Ankara fails to meet the terms of the agreement. This comes despite threats from the Turkish president.

Germany's government struck a harder line with Turkey after two ministers went on record to insist all criteria must be met by Ankara if the EU's visa regime is to be lifted for Turkish citizens.

"If the conditions for the introduction of visa liberalization (for Turkish citizens)
are not met, there will be no visa liberalization," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain in an interview published Saturday.

"One must not allow public threats to leave an impression when it comes to politics," de Maiziere said. "At least you must not lend credence to them by displaying too much concern."

Brussels has promised Turkish citizens visa-free travel into Europe in return for stopping the flow of illegal migrants to the bloc. And while Europe is desperate for the deal to work, it also insists Ankara meet 72 criteria, including narrowing the scope of its broad anti-terrorism laws to meet European standards.

Watch video 02:56

No deal yet on visa-free travel for Turks

This comes despite stark warning from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara would pull out of the controversial EU refugee deal if the

visa regime

was not lifted for its citizens this summer.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas - of the Social Democrats, the junior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition - says Berlin is not impressed by threats.

"We will not be blackmailed; Mr. Erdogan can bluster as much as he wants," he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper in an interview published Saturday.

The pubic disagreement has threatened the future of

the migrant deal

and put pressure on Ankara's relationship with the 28-member bloc.

One of the sticking points is Turkey's broad anti-terror laws, which critics say is used to target political opponents and Turkey's Kurdish minority which have legitimate grievances against the Turkish state.

EU and Turkish officials are due to meet next week to try and iron out these differences.

jar/rc (dpa)

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