March 17, 2017 / 3:29 PM / 4 months ago

German minister expects Turkey to uphold EU migrant deal

3 Min Read

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere addresses a news conference at the interior ministry in Berlin, Germany, February 1, 2011.Thomas Peter/File Photo

ST. WENDEL, Germany (Reuters) - German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday that he expected Ankara to stick to a deal reached between the European Union and Turkey last year to stem the flow of migrants.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview on Wednesday that Turkey may cancel a migrant readmission agreement with the European Union, and is also re-evaluating a $6 billion refugee deal with the bloc.

"I'm hearing a lot of comments from Turkey and they're trying to get us to somehow beg for this agreement and all that," de Maiziere said after a meeting with the conservative interior ministers of Germany's states.

"There's an agreement and we're sticking to it. We expect Turkey to do that too," he added.

In 2015, more than a million refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond reached Europe, crossing over to Greek islands from Turkey. The flow has all but stopped since the EU-Ankara deal came into force on March 20, 2016.

A spokesman for the German government said on Friday there were no signs Ankara had suspended the deal, adding the numbers of migrants arriving in Greece continued to be very low.

EU officials say they are not yet worried the migrant deal might collapse, noting that the bloc has disbursed 777 million euros as part of the accord to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

De Maiziere said Turkey was being provocative every day to get a response and make Turkey look like a victim.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is seeking support among Turks abroad as he campaigns for a referendum that would give him sweeping new powers. He has infuriated Germany and the Netherlands by describing bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers there as "fascist".

De Maiziere said it was important to note that "we have ... a Turkish government that is apparently having difficulty winning the referendum and is using other topics, the supposed conflict with Europe, to increase approval of its policies and the means to do that is provocation."

Cavusoglu said on Thursday that anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders may have fallen short in this week's election in the Netherlands, but his views were shared by all the Dutch parties and are pushing Europe towards "wars of religion".

De Maiziere said authorities would examine what effects that might have on Germany and draw conclusions where necessary.

Reporting by Reuters TV in St. Wendel and Emma Thomasson in Berlin; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Julia Glover

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