NICOSIA – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, unhappy with a migrant deal struck by the European Union, said he will block Turkey’s membership talks unless his country is recognized as a state, the Associated Press reported.
EU leaders on March 17-18 are due to finalize an agreement with Turkey to take back illegal immigrants in return for accepting refugees in Turkey who are seeking asylum in Europe.
But that deal gives Turkey six billion euros as well as fast-track to joining the EU and visa-less travel without guarantees Ankara will recognize Cyprus and as it continues to bar Cypriot ships and planes although Cyprus is already in the EU.
Anastasiades had hinted earlier he would consider a veto of the EU deal unless Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan softens his hard line against Cyprus.
Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been in negotiations since May of 2015 to try to reunify the island divided by an unlawful invasion in 1974 and as Turkey still keeps a standing army on the northern third it occupies.
Speaking March 15 after talks with EU Council President Donald Tusk, Anastasiades said unblocking Turkey’s path to EU membership at this time would also undermine ongoing talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically divided country.
Anastasiades said it’s “unwarranted, counterproductive and not to mention unacceptable” to shift the burden of Europe’s massive migration crisis to Cyprus..
Turkey has demanded that Cyprus lift its veto on five of 35 policy areas in its EU accession talks in order to agree to a deal with the European Union to take back thousands of migrants.