Turkey must not be permitted to blackmail the EU in talks about visa-free travel for Turkish citizens across the continent, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said.

The EU had offered Turkey the possibility of visa-free travel for its citizens in return for helping halt the flow of migrants into the EU. However, the introduction of the plan has been delayed because of authoritarian changes to Turkey’s democracy in the wake of last month’s failed coup.

Gabriel said that Turkey’s plan to reintroduce the death penalty for alleged coup plotters was a “flagrant contravention of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights”, which is seen as a “vital part” of sharing close relations with the EU.

His comments followed the threat by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said over the weekend that Turkey may cancel its agreement with the EU to stem the migrant flow if the EU delays on delivering visa-free travel.

Gabriel said:

“It is up to Turkey if there is or there isn’t visa liberalisation… Germany and Europe should under no circumstances be blackmailed.”

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