EU-observer – MEPs have stopped work on plans to give Turks visa-free access to the EU’s Schengen zone, putting a wider migrant deal in doubt. Group leaders in the European Parliament’s “conference of presidents” quietly suspended work on the file last Wednesday. Some of the lead MEPs on the dossier, the group coordinators in the civil liberties committee (LIBE), found out about the suspension on Monday (9 May).
Judith Sargentini, a Dutch Green MEP, said EU parliament chief Martin Schulz suspended it because Turkey had not yet met all EU visa-free criteria.
The Guardian – Hundreds of non-Syrian asylum seekers deported under the EU-Turkey migration deal were not allowed to claim asylum in either Greece or Turkey, a group of European politicians has claimed. After interviewing 40 of the deportees, the three MEPs have concluded that, despite EU promises, the deal with Turkey is not being enacted according to international law.
Hurriyet Daily News – “Within the framework of the agreement with the EU, 386 irregular migrants have been readmitted to Turkey from five Greek islands. Of those, 14 of them were Syrians and a vast majority was other countries’ citizens,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç told reporters at a press conference on May 9. “Simultaneously with the readmission, the resettlement of Syrians has also started. Within this framework, 125 Syrians have been sent to Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Lithuania,” Bilgiç added.
Al Jazeera – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected easing anti-terror legislation in exchange for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the European Union. Erdogan told EU states, “We’ll go our way, you go yours,” in a statement released on Friday, just a day after the resignation of his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. European leaders wanted Turkey to reverse recent anti-terror measures in exchange for allowing Turks to visit the EU without visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Balkan Insight – Bulgaria will be able to send back migrants who have crossed its border with Turkey illegally from June 1, according to the protocol signed between Sofia and Ankara on Thursday. The country is the first among EU member states to sign the protocol, which sets procedures for sending refugees back to Turkey.
The Turkish and Bulgarian interior ministers also agreed on procedures for a joint contact centre between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, which will start operation in several weeks’ time at the Capitan Andreevo border checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. It aims to allow the three countries to exchange operational information on issues related to people-smuggling, contraband and counter-terrorism.
The Guardian – The EU executive on Wednesday gave its provisional blessing to visa-free travel for Turkish tourists and short-stay travellers to the Schengen Area, which excludes the UK and Ireland. It backed the scheme on the condition that Ankara upgrades laws on anti-corruption, terrorism and data protection in the next few weeks. In another important caveat, visa-free travel would only be available to those Turks with biometric passports that include fingerprint recognition chips. Such passports do not exist in Turkey, although the government plans to introduce them from 1 June.
Human Rights Watch – With little fanfare or media attention, the European Union and Greece yesterday quietly resumed deporting “irregular migrants” from Greece to Turkey. After a two-week pause, boats reportedly took 31 people from Kos, 13 from Lesbos, and five from Chios – among them Afghanis, Iranians, and Jordanians. Since April 4, when deportations in connection with the flawed EU-Turkey deal began, Greece and the EU border agency Frontex have deported 375 people from the three islands.
The Guardian – Europe’s leading human rights body has issued a stinging indictment of the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey, which it said at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under international law.
A report from the Council of Europe’s assembly listed numerous concerns on human rights, from keeping migrants in overcrowded and insanitary detention centres on the Greek islands to inadequate legal protection for people seeking to appeal against rejection of an asylum claim.
South China Morning Post – A new wave of refugees has fled northern Syria for the Turkish border after Islamic State fighters opened fire on communities that had sheltered them, killing at least three people and uprooting thousands more.
The killings came as the terror group pushed back Syrian opposition forces who had edged to within 8km of Dabiq, a highly symbolic village that the group’s leaders believe is the pre-ordained epicentre of a clash that will herald an apocalyptic showdown .
Nieuwsuur – Eyewitnesses say: Turkey sends back Syrian refugees to Syria. The Turkish Ambassador in The Netherlands denies the allegations. Watch our report and our interview with The Turkish Ambassador in The Netherlands.