Greece has reacted angrily to Turkey’s refusal to sign an agreement on on the readmission of illegal immigrants because it involves Cyprus, a European Union member which Turkey refuses to recognize even as it wants to join the bloc.
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said the act could jeopardize Turkey’s hopes of joining the EU, which Greece supports even though Turkey also won’t allow Cypriot ships or planes to enter the country.
“The EU has 28 member states and Turkey will have to take this seriously under consideration if it wants to keep its European prospects alive,” Kourkoulas told Real FM.
It was the second response in as many days after Ankara, suffering from a brewing corruption scandal, sent a letter to the European Commission saying it could not fully implement an agreement on the readmission of illegal immigrants because it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish officials earlier this year put it more bluntly, saying, “There is no country called Cyprus.”
Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since an invasion in 1974 and still keeps a standing army there. All attempts at negotiating a reunification have failed miserably.
Earlier, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras said that if Turkey failed to recognize Cypus as a full EU member, “There is no practical point to any given discussion of its European perspective.”
The response showed Greece pulling back somewhat from its unconditional support for Turkey’s EU entry despite constant provocation from the Turks in a number of areas. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras this year earlier went to Ankara to meet his counterpart, the now-embattled Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to try to tighten ties between the countries, but the Cyprus problem remains a big bugaboo.
What wrankled Greece and Cyprus was that Turkey said it would accept the agreement on illegal immigrants in all EU countries except Cyprus, as it informed the European Commission.
This action constitutes an intolerable challenge not only towards Cyprus but to the EU and European institutions, said the President of EDEK Yiannakis Omirou, in Paphos, Cyprus.
He also said that the Union and the Commission need to compel Turkey to conform to this agreement and he called on the government to react quickly and decisively to Turkey’s provocation.