German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Turkey on Thursday to try and shore up a relationship strained by charges of creeping authoritarianism following last July’s failed coup. At the heart of this uneasy friendship lies the crucial Turkey-EU migrant deal.
With elections slated for September, Ms Merkel is keen to ensure the integrity of the deal, which helped stem the flow of migrants in 2016, therefore alleviating political pressure – both domestic and regional – to begin closing the EU’s internal borders. Turkish threats to cancel this integral agreement are a major threat to Merkel’s sustainable immigration platform and, more broadly, her vision for the EU.
Turkey has threatened to cancel the deal twice: last November in retaliation for an EU decision to freeze Turkey’s membership bid, and again on Monday after Greece refused to extradite eight of its soldiers.
The results of Thursday’s meeting may also impact Friday’s EU summit in Malta, where migration will top the agenda. In the lead-up to the summit, Ms Merkel said a Turkey-style deal is needed with Libya. Whether the oft-cited agreement will still be a helpful template for a deal with the troubled North African state by the end of the year is yet to be seen.