Cyprus opposes accelerated European Union accession talks for Turkey, complicating the bloc’s drive for a breakthrough agreement with Ankara next week on curbing the migrant crisis.
Nicosia is under pressure to do a deal with Ankara but it won’t budge on the unfreezing of chapters unless Turkey is willing to give something in return on the Cyprus problem.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stunned his 28 EU counterparts in Brussels on Monday with an offer to take back all illegal migrants landing on the overstretched Greek islands, in return for a package of concessions including progress in its drawn-out talks on joining the bloc. He also demanded visa-free travel and more cash.
Cyprus — not recognised by Ankara — has blocked key parts of its negotiations for membership since 2009.
Davutoglu called for the opening of five more “chapters” — so far it has completed just one out of more than 30.
But Cyprus said Turkey must first meet its longstanding demands for recognition and the opening of trade, ports and airports.
“Regarding Turkey’s demand for the opening of chapters unilaterally frozen by the Republic of Cyprus… the president remained firm in the position… that the opening of any chapters requires the fulfilment by Turkey of its obligations,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.
Nicosia also wants Turkey to play a more positive role to ensure the UN-backed peace process is a success.
Cyprus’ objections are just one of the details that must be thrashed out to turn Turkey’s proposals into a final deal at a European summit in Brussels on March 17-18.
President Anastasiades acknow-ledged that the migrants crisis was hurting its close ally Greece, and thanked Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other European leaders for the “understanding and support they demonstrated” of its position on Turkish accession.
As EU leaders are trying to push...