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Is EU-Turkey migrant deal in danger after Germany Armenia vote?

The Italian navy preparing to rescue migrants from a capsizing boat on 25 May  2016.
The Italian navy preparing to rescue migrants from a capsizing boat on 25 May 2016. Marina Militare

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel say their countries' relationship will survive Thursday's Bundestag resolution recognising the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide. But not all experts are convinced that the EU-Turkey deal to address the migrant crisis will hold up.


Experts discuss the future of the EU-Turkey deal

Ankara initially responded to the Bundestag vote by withdrawing its German ambassador and summoning the German chargé d'affaires in Ankara for consultations.

But Jürgen Hardt, the German Foreign Affairs spokesman for the ruling CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said he was confident that normal relations would resume by the summer.

"I regret that Turkey decided to recall their envoy," says Hardt. "I feel there is nothing in the position of the Deutsche Bundestag [parliament] that harmed Turkey or the Turkish government or the Turkish people. We are talking about Turkish history and not about Turkish people living now.

"I estimate that they will send their envoy back soon. I think there was probably a routine change in the position of the Turkish ambassador to Germany. probably they need a chance to send the new ambassador in the summer and with that we will go back to normal relations."

This reassurance follows further doubts about the strength of the EU-Turkey agreement to deal with the migration crisis following Thursday's Bundestag vote.

"The EU-Turkey deal is not secure," says Peter Niedermüller, an MEP for the Hungarian Democratic Coalition who recently visited the refugee camps in Greece and Turkey.

"Turkey would like, of course, to be a full member of the European Union and, generally speaking, the political situation in Turkey is not correspondent with the values of the European Union."

EU-Turkey migrant deal criticised

Niedermüller told RFI that there was a lot of objection to the EU-Turkey deal.

"This is because of the violence, the continued violation of human rights in Turkey, the situation for women in Turkey and the Kurdish problem," says Niedermüller. "So, Turkey is important, on the one hand, to help to solve the migration crisis but, on the other, this is politically and morally a very controversial issue in the European Parliament."

According to the International Organization for Migration, the EU-Turkey deal has already improved the migration crisis.

"So far, the deal seems to be working as far as the European Union is concerned in that the numbers have hugely gone down, in terms of the number of people arriving," explains Itayi Viri, a spokesman for the IMO.

"Obviously, there is another dimension to this migration situation in that the numbers from north Africa to Europe are more or less the same as they were last year. It's still the same sort of sub-Saharan African profile of the migrants coming from north Africa to Europe. 

"We've always been very adamant that Turkey, along with Lebanon, Jordan and other countries in the region that are housing refugees, that they need much more assistance than they are getting now." 

The European Parliament has yet to approve the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Although Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has, like Merkel, stressed that German-Turkish relations will not break down because of the vote, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to take further action when he returns from a visit to Kenya.

It remains to be seen whether he will renege on some of Turkey's commitments under the EU deal.

Click here for our coverage of Turkey election 2015

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