Germany rejects Turkish threat over EU migrants accord

The EU struck a migrant deal with Turkey to halt the mass migration which has created enormous strain in Greece and eastern Europe (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

The EU struck a migrant deal with Turkey to halt the mass migration which has created enormous strain in Greece and eastern Europe

The EU struck a migrant deal with Turkey to halt the mass migration which has created enormous strain in Greece and eastern Europe (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

Berlin (AFP) - Germany on Tuesday dismissed a Turkish threat to renege on a controversial EU deal on stemming the flow of migrants if it is not granted visa-free travel by October.

Asked if Turkey could "blackmail" the EU over the refugee pact, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Rheinische Post newspaper: "That is absurd."

"The fact is there are conditions for the visa-free policy and they are known to everyone," he said.

"Turkey pledged to undertake the necessary steps to hold up its end of the agreement. That is not yet the case and Turkey still has work to do."

Steinmeier's Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Monday that Ankara could withdraw from the accord if Europe failed to allow visa-free travel for Turks by October.

German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel hit back Monday during a campaign rally for a state election, saying "Germany or Europe must in no way let themselves be blackmailed" by Turkey over the migrants pact.

Turkey and the EU signed the disputed deal in March, in which Ankara agreed to take back Syrian migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for political and financial incentives.

Chancellor Angela Merkel spearheaded the agreement with Ankara after Germany let in a record 1.1 million migrants and refugees last year.

In addition to visa-free travel, it includes billions of euros in aid and accelerated talks on Turkey's stalled bid for EU membership, but ties have been strained by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's massive crackdown after a failed coup last month.