This was confirmed yesterday when Turkey announced it would not fulfill its part of the refugee deal with the EU if the bloc does not lift its visa requirements for Turkish citizens by October, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told a German daily.
Turkey’s fulfillment of its commitments under the refugee deal with the EU “depends on the lifting of visa requirements for our citizens that is also a subject of the agreement,” Cavusoglu said during an exclusive interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The minister also stressed that the Turkish government is waiting for a “specific deadline” to be set for the lifting of visa requirements. “It can be early or mid-October but we wait for an exact date,” he said.
Diplomatically, Cavusoglu emphasized that his words are “not a threat,” but added that “if there is no visa abolition, we will be forced to abandon the agreement struck on March 18 concerning taking back [refugees].”
So yes, it was a threat, if only one which reacts to Europe's realization that it had made a bargain with the devil, and was trying to pull out however while hoping Turkey would keep its end of the bargain. Turkey, however, has refused, and now the 2 month countdown to October and another refugee flood may have begun.
Cavusoglu also said that the deal is working only because Turkey is taking “very serious measures” to stop the refugee inflow, particularly in fighting people smugglers. Under the agreement signed in March, Brussels pledged to pay Turkey €6 billion, grant visa-free travel to Turkish nationals, and speed up EU accession talks with Ankara. In exchange, Turkey agreed to take back all illegal migrants and refugees that reach Greece via Turkey, while allowing a certain number of asylum seekers to travel to the EU legally.