Cyprus says cannot consent to expediting Turkey’s EU talks

17 March 2016
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Cyprus said on Thursday it would not consent to expediting Turkey’s European Union accession talks, as its leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss how Ankara could help stop a massive flow of migrants to Europe.

“The launching of any discussion on EU negotiation chapters concerning Turkey, which have been frozen by the Republic of Cyprus, can start only when Turkey meets its obligations,” Cypriot Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said.

EU leaders are struggling to reach an accord on restricting a seemingly unstoppable flow of refugees and migrants from conflict zones through Turkey and then on to Greece and the rest of Europe.

As an EU member, Cyprus has frozen a number of negotiation “chapters” Turkey must traverse to qualify for EU membership because Ankara has failed to open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic, as it is obliged to do under EU treaties.

“What may happen with the accession chapters is not contingent on the Republic of Cyprus. It is exclusively up to Turkey,” Christodoulides said.

The east Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Its Greek Cypriot government represents the island in the EU.

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