March 20, 2016 / 5:08 PM / 4 years ago

EU-Turkey deal could see Kurds moving to Germany en masse: German conservative

BERLIN (Reuters) - A prominent figure in the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Sunday a deal between the European Union and Turkey to halt illegal immigration to Europe could lead to Kurds heading to Germany en masse.

The deal agreed on Friday envisages Turkey taking back all illegal migrants who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, while the EU accepts an equal number of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and gives the Turks funds, visa-free travel rights and accelerated EU membership negotiations.

“It could ultimately lead to more immigration, especially if you take visa freedom into account. Many, many Kurds fleeing the Turkish government could come to Germany,” Markus Soeder, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and finance minister for the state of Bavaria, told German public broadcaster ZDF.

The Turkish government has banned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer told newspaper Bild am Sonntag the deal between the EU and Turkey was “not a breakthrough, but rather an intermediate step on the way to a sustainable European solution” and added there was a danger of Germany bearing the greatest burden for taking in refugees again.

He said the CSU, which has long been skeptical of Ankara’s bid to join the EU, would not agree to giving Turkey full EU membership or complete visa freedom because that would “import Turkey’s domestic problems to Germany”.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Powell

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