ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says the European Union wants to back out of lifting visa restrictions for Turks — a key incentive offered Turkey in a deal to stop thousands of migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece.

Speaking Saturday in parliament at the opening of the legislative year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the stalling of the visa liberalization deal, which was supposed to come into force this month.

He says “this stance is a declaration that the European Union does not wish to keep the promise it made Turkey.”

Plans to loosen visa restrictions have run into trouble over Turkey’s refusal to amend its anti-terror laws as it fights heightened threats from Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State group. The EU wants Turkey to narrow its definition of terrorism.