Frank-Walter Steinmeier.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Germany's top diplomat rejected accusations that Berlin is showing too much deference to Ankara as it works to implement a controversial EU-Turkey migration deal.

"We continue to take the liberty to discuss deviations in Turkey, to discuss limitations on freedom of expression and freedom of the press," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Sunday's edition of German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

Turkey has faced sharp criticism in recent months for taking legal action against politically critical journalists and blocking foreign reporters' access to the country.

As part of the migration deal struck by Turkey and the EU in March, Ankara has been preventing human traffickers from using its coastline to transport migrants and refugees to the EU territory of nearby Greek islands.

In return, Turkey has insisted its citizens receive visa-free access to the bloc. The Europeans say Turkey must first 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.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan balked at the demand last week, with Ankara threatening to slacken its controls and allow refugees to again travel in the EU's direction if visa-free access isn't granted.

"Whether we want it or not, Turkey remains the key country for migration to Europe," Steinmeier said. "We need a degree of cooperation if we want to avoid conditions like we had last year."

Some 1.1 million refugees and migrants entered Germany in 2015, many of them Syrians who travelled through Turkey and across the so-called Balkan route.

The migrant influx has triggered a rise in right-wing populism across Europe. In Germany, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, founded in February 2013, has attracted strong support from those who criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy for migrants fleeing Syria.

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.