Sunday, March 13, 2016
Merkel's Nightmare: Cyprus Threatens to Block EU-Ankara Migration Deal
© Flickr/ Kasi Metcalfe
Cyprus will not lift the veto on Turkey’s admission to the European Union unless an agreement on Cyprus reunification is signed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her keynote speech during the Christain Democratic Union (CDU) politial Ash Wednesday meeting in Volkmarsen, Germany February 29, 2016.
Full Obedience: ‘Turkey Is Keeping Europe on a Leash'
Brussels has agreed a deal with Ankara, according to which the EU would double its financial aid to Turkey (from €3 billion to €6 billion) and consider imposing a visa-free regime for Turks coming to the Schengen zone.
In addition, Ankara has demanded from Brussels to open five new negotiating chapters and accelerate talks on Turkey’s accession to the bloc if an agreement on Cyprus reunification is sealed.
"We will not lift our veto on those chapters," Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told Politico.
The diplomat underscored that his priority is the negotiations over the reunification of the Greek and Turkish halves of the island.
"When we resolve the problem, everything will be lifted," he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchange gifts before their talks
Brussels Negotiating With Turkey Proves EU is 'Morally Bankrupt'
Cyprus has frozen six negotiating chapters in the migration deal between Ankara and Brussels, including the five that Turkey has insisted on.
EU leaders are due to approve the agreement during a meeting on March 17-18 in Brussels.
A couple walk through the buffer zone as they cross from the Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia to the Greek side of the Cypriot capital via Paphos Gate pedestrian border crossing on June 28, 2012.
So Close and Yet So Far: How Realistic Is Cyprus Reunification?
At the same time, there is still a chance that Ankara and Nicosia will be able to agree on Cyprus reunification. One of the thorniest issues includes whether Turkey will withdraw its 30,000 troops from the north. Only when the issue is resolved will an agreement be put to a referendum.
In 2004, Cypriot Greeks rejected reunification at a referendum.
Nicosia fears that if it lifts its veto on admission talks with Turkey Greek Cypriots reject the decision.
"If the president says yes [to talks with Turkey], without advancements on the talks, the domestic front will be weakened and the chances for a referendum for a yes will be far less," the minister said. "Why don’t they leave us alone to negotiate and finish the issue of Cyprus first? And then everything will fall into place."