EU-Turkey refugee deal not working, Merkel says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a visit to Athens on Friday that she did not support full membership in the European Union for Turkey, Deutsche Welle has reported.

She also said the deal between the EU and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees into Europe is “not working properly,” Reuters reported.

“As it is not working, we have this pressurized situation on the Greek islands,” she said, referring to the many migrants arriving on the shores of these islands from Turkey. Under the EU-Turkey deal, anyone crossing from Turkey to Greece who does not meet asylum requirements will be turned back, while for each Syrian rejected into Greece, another will be accepted into the EU, Reuters reported.

Merkel said she had spoken to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras about the matter.

“The Greek legal system is very complicated and somehow the sending back (of migrants) is not working,” she said, Reuters reported.

“Everyone knows once you’re on a Greek island, you can get to the mainland, and once you’re on the mainland you can then somehow get to Germany, Sweden, Austria or somewhere else, so then we are supporting illegal migration,” she added.

On the matter of EU membership, Merkel expressed her doubts that Turkey’s accession bid would succeed in the near future, reiterating her past position. However, she also added that she believed a total cutoff of negotiations, which have been active since the late 1980s and showed the most progress during the 2000s, would hurt Turkey more.

Instead, Merkel expressed a preference for a partnership with Turkey rather than EU membership.

She added that “Turkey is moving away from EU standards” on issues like freedom of thought, religion, and press.

Meanwhile, Tspiras said on Friday that he backed full membership in the EU for Turkey. He said it would benefit the country and region.