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Turkey not very hopeful about EU refugee deal: Minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkey's Minister of EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir speaks during a joint press conference with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (not shown in the picture) after a meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on May 11, 2016. (© AFP)

Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Volkan Bozkir cast serious doubt Friday over the prospects of realizing a deal between Ankara and the EU on refugees, which would provide visa-free travel for Turks in Europe's borderless Schengen zone.

“At this stage, I would not say we are very hopeful,” Bozkir told Turkish reporters in televised comments in Brussels following talks with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

“Every country has things on which it can give ground and things on which it can't. The European Commission should help Turkey.”

“We think the European Commission should understand quite how critical the current situation is,” Bozkir stated.

The remarks came only a day after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the EU over what he termed as its “hypocrisy” for telling Ankara to change its anti-terror laws.

“Since when are you running this country? Who has given you the authority?” President Erdogan said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during an event entitled “Domestic and National Will in Turkish Political History” at ATO Congress Center in Ankara, Turkey, May 12, 2016. (© AFP)

Ankara says the laws are necessary given the ongoing clashes with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in southeastern Turkey, and the threat of Daesh Takfiri terrorists in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Rights groups, however, accuse Turkey of using the broad anti-terrorism legislation to silence opposition and arrest critics, including reporters and academics.

Analysts say the problem of changing the anti-terror laws could endanger the Turkey-EU refugee deal, which has prompted a sharp decline in the number of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Under the deal sealed in March, Ankara agreed to take back all the asylum seekers and refugees who had used its territory to illegally reach the EU shores in return for a number of commitments from the EU, including financial aid, visa liberalization and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

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