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Turkish President Erdogan demands visa waiver, or there will be no migrant deal

Turkey's President Erdogan has told the EU that without a visa waiver for Turkish travelers there will be no deal over migrants. Talks are ongoing with a new Turkish EU affairs minister.

Turkey's parliament will reject the deal if Turkish citizens are not granted visa-free access to Europe, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Istanbul on Tuesday.

"If

the talks are fruitful,

good. If not, then a step will have to be taken at the Turkish parliament, and the law regarding the implementation of the readmission agreement will not be ratified," Erdogan said.

Under the visa-waiver deal, Turkey's 75 million citizens would have the right to enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days at a time with biometric passports from the end of June.

In return, Turkey would take back refugees that had earlier passed through the country into Europe, with the EU paying Turkey a pro rata fee.

Watch video 02:56

No deal yet on visa-free travel for Turks

Missed deadline

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the target date for the visa-free system from 1 June was no longer tenable, citing Turkey's delays in reforming its

anti-terrorism

laws. This was one of the EU's requirements for lifting the visa requirement for Turks traveling in the Schengen area.

She added that the

EU

believes Ankara will not be able to implement reforms on freedom of the press and the judiciary by June 30.

The EU has a list of 72 requirements that Ankara needs to meet to obtain visa-free travel, with reform of anti-terror legislation another of the five remaining key steps, along with the protection of personal data.

Merkel

said she had "made it very clear" that the move to strip about 25 percent of Turkish members of parliament - many of whom are from the Kurdish minority - of their legal immunity as "a reason for deep concern."

Erdogan also said that payments promised by the EU as part of the agreement had not yet been paid.

Merkel has announced further talks with Turkey.

jbh/jm (dpa, AP)

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