Tayyip Erdogan.jpg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the European Union on Thursday for demanding the country narrow its terrorism laws, while a top European official warned Turkey alone would be responsible if it failed to secure visa-free access.

Hanging in the balance, and at risk of unravelling, is the migration deal Turkey and Brussels reached in March, which is meant to stem the flow of refugees and others on the move to Europe.

"Since when are you running Turkey?" Erdogan said in a televised speech, while also accusing the EU of "hypocrisy."

With Erdogan already facing criticism that he is growing increasingly authoritarian, Europe insists Turkey must amend its anti-terror laws so that they are less vague and prone to abuse.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to take a tough stance, saying Erdogan had to ensure all conditions are met before the bloc grants Turkish citizens visa-free access.

"If Mr Erdogan pursues a strategy that denies Turks the right to visa-free travel to Europe, then he must explain this to the Turkish people. This will be his problem, not mine," Juncker told German radio WDR.

The migration deal was reached between Turkey and the EU in March and since then Ankara has been preventing people smugglers from using its coastline to transport migrants and refugees, including many Syrians, to nearby Greek islands, which are part of the EU.

If the deal unravels, there is concern Turkey would relax its controls and migrants would again begin to travel to Europe.

More than a million arrived in the bloc last year, sparking political debates over taking in such large numbers of people.

The influx has prompted border checks and therefore threatened an end to Europe's cherished passport-free Schengen zone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the migration deal, admitting that there was a "dependency" on Turkey in keeping migration in check.

Her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told public broadcaster WDR that while there was no plan to back down from criticizing Turkey when appropriate, the migration deal was crucial.

"We must acknowledge that we have a sustainable interest in stopping this agreement on migration from crashing," he said.

But German opposition parties, echoing human rights groups, voiced criticism of the agreement in a parliamentary debate, with the Left Party's Jan Korte calling it a "dirty deal," while Green politician Claudia Roth decried the use of migrants as a bargaining chip.

Europe's parliament is still set to vote on the visa-free access, with the legislative house's president, Martin Schultz, insisting Ankara meet its obligations before the deal can go ahead.

Turkey is meant to meet 72 criteria, including the narrowing of the definition of an act of terrorism, in order to be applicable for the easing of travel laws.

Erdogan used his speech, the latest in a string of lectures criticizing his opponents at home and abroad, to lash out at Europe over its position in the fight against terrorism, implying some members of the bloc are aiding armed groups.

The president also insisted the country needs a constitutional change to empower his office. Critics of Erdogan accuse him of seeking to tighten his grip on power, a factor also weighing on the migration deal.

Next week, Turkish parliament is set to vote on removing the immunity of legislators, a move widely seen as an attempt to crack down on the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

Recent months have seen a sharp uptick in violence in the mostly-Kurdish south-eastern provinces of Turkey.

Latest news

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon, NASA involved

SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth's only natural satellite in more than four decades, the private company said Monday.

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government and rights organizations.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.