The EU’s top diplomat in Turkey has stepped down after a row with Ankara over his criticism of the government’s conduct in a landmark migrant deal, his office said. The departure of Hansjoerg Haber is indicative of the increasingly-fractious relationship between Ankara and Brussels, even as both sides try and implement a key agreement aimed at reducing the flow of migrants to the European Union. “We confirm that the ambassador has resigned,” a spokesperson told AFP in a move confirmed by the office of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Haber, a German diplomat who headed the EU delegation to Ankara, had come under fire after comments to the media on May 13 in which he bitterly criticised the Turkish government’s conduct in implementing the deal. He had only been in his post since October. The Turkish foreign ministry said at the time his comments caused “indignation”. Haber said: “We have a saying ‘Start like a Turk and end like a German. But here it is the other way round’,” Turkish media reported. His comments were viewed as deeply insulting in Turkey, where ambassadors are generally expected to show extreme respect for Turkish culture. Volkan Bozkir, who was Turkey’s EU affairs minister at the time, said Haber had broken “the first law of diplomacy”. “No ambassador has the right to humiliate the people of the country in which he is working or to say something about its president,” he was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet daily. It said the dispute had upset Mogherini who in the end had wanted Haber to resign. Intervention by Germany was not enough to ease the tensions, it added. EU commission spokeswoman for foreign policy Maja Kocijancic confirmed the resignation, saying Haber would leave on August 1 and a successor would be swiftly appointed.
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