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article imageTurkey says has back-up plan if EU fails to keep promises

By AFP     Dec 15, 2016 in World

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday Turkey had back-up plans if the EU failed to keep its promise over visa-free travel for Turks to the passport-free Schengen zone.

Turkey and the EU signed a controversial deal in March, in which Ankara agreed to take back Syrian migrants landing on Greek islands in return for incentives including three billion euros ($3.1 billion) in funds and visa-free travel.

"If we do not get the expected outcome regarding the visa issue... if promises are not fulfilled, Turkey will no doubt have a plan B and it will have a plan C," Erdogan warned during a news conference with his Slovenian counterpart in Ankara.

"We do not have to say 'yes' to every decision made about us. The EU has given us nothing so far," he added, without elaborating.

Ties between Brussels and Ankara have been strained since a failed July 15 coup in Turkey.

The rocky relationship worsened after the European Parliament voted last month in favour of halting long-stalled membership talks with Turkey over its post-coup crackdown, a non-binding vote which Erdogan branded worthless.

Turkey accuses the EU of failing to show enough solidarity after the failed putsch while Brussels has repeatedly urged Turkey to act within the rule of law as it arrests tens of thousands of people suspected of links to coup plotters.

In total, over 100,000 people have been arrested, suspended or sacked from the judiciary, military, media, police and the civil service over alleged links to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused of launching the failed coup.

The US-based cleric strongly denies the accusations.

The EU was due to give Turks visa-free travel at the latest by October and Erdogan pointed to Latin American countries who already have such privileges.

"Now I say to the world media, what do Latin American countries have to do with the EU?"

He was referring to Colombia and Peru, which were given access to the Schengen Zone in 2015.

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