Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a recent bout of political amnesia that sent a strong signal that the refugee deal reached March 18 between outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the European Union (EU) is under threat from Ankara. What brought on this spell and how does it put strain on the deal?
Erdogan’s problem is not with the refugee deal itself, under which Ankara agreed to re-admit Syrian refugees who reach the EU via Turkey. Rather, what bothers him is a related issue — an accord envisaging visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU’s Schengen zone that Davutoglu signed on Dec. 16, 2013, while he was foreign minister and Erdogan prime minister. It was Davutoglu who linked the visa agreement to the refugee deal, and it is this connection that contributed to the amnesia threatening the refugee deal.