Cyprus said today (March 15, 2016) that it won't back any acceleration of negotiations for Turkey's European Union (EU) membership, thus jeopardizing a proposal between the EU and Ankara that would significantly reduce the number of migrants leaving Turkey for Europe, the Euro News website reports.
The EU wants to finalize a deal with Turkey over the return of refugees and migrants before a March 17 EU summit in Brussels. However, the United Nations has opposed the EU-Turkey deal, asserting it may be a violation of international law, while several human rights groups view the migrant deal as "inhumane." (See Theology and Society, "UN, Rights Groups Rip Proposed EU-Turkey Deal...," March 9, 2016)
Turkey has demanded several billion euros, visa-free travel for Turks to Europe, and a speedup of its entry talks for EU membership in return for its help in stemming the flow of refugees into Europe. But Cyprus plans to veto any attempt by Turkey to join the EU until Turkey ends its control of the northern third of its island that it illegally seized in 1974.
President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said: "The Republic of Cyprus does not intend to consent to the opening of any chapters if Turkey does not fulfill its obligations as described in the negotiating framework."