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EU envoy to Turkey resigns after row with Ankara

Hansjoerg Haber was bitterly critical of Turkey’s conduct over the deal to reduce the number of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to EU territory

Published: Updated:

The European Union’s top diplomat in Ankara has stepped down after a row with Turkey over controversial comments he made on a landmark refugee deal, a spokesperson from his office said on Tuesday.

The departure of Hansjoerg Haber is indicative of the increasingly fractious relationship between Ankara and Brussels, even as both sides try and implement the landmark deal to reduce to the flow of migrants to the EU.

“We confirm that the ambassador has resigned,” the spokesperson told AFP.

Haber, a German diplomat who headed the EU delegation to Ankara, stepped down after he criticized in comments to media the Turkish government’s conduct over the implementation of the landmark deal.

He had only been in his post since October last year.

The foreign ministry said at the time his comments caused “indignation” and were condemned by Turkey.

Haber was bitterly critical of Turkey’s conduct over the deal to reduce the number of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to EU territory, at a meeting with some reporters on May 13.

Haber said: “We have a saying ‘Start like a Turk and end like a German. But here it is the other way round’”, according to Turkish media reports.

His departure is indicative of the increasingly fractious relationship between Ankara and Brussels, even as both sides try and implement the refugee deal.

Turkey has demanded visa-free travel for its citizens to most of the bloc in return for curbing the refugee flow but the deal is now in limbo as Ankara refuses to meet all the criteria laid down by Brussels.

The European Commission is due Wednesday to publish its second report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, including elements on the progress regarding the fulfilment of the conditions for visa liberalization.