EU Minister Bozkır: Turkey will not accept partial agreement
by Ali Ünal
ANKARAMar 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Mar 18, 2016 12:00 am
EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır said that Ankara will not accept the partial adoption of their proposition submitted at the Turkey-EU summit on March 7 and that in such a case, Turkey will continue its way with the terms agreed to on Nov. 29, 2015.
Speaking to Daily Sabah on the eve of the resumption of the Turkey-EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Bozkır said that Turkey's offer to the EU aims to end the illegal migration flow to Europe and make migration safe and can only be applicable if the EU accepts all of Turkey's terms. "We proposed our offer as a package to the EU on March 7. In our previous meetings [with EU leaders we] already expressed that this deal can be implemented only if all the terms are accepted by the EU. In case of partial acceptance the deal will be off the table and Turkey will continue its way with the terms of the previous deal agreed to on Nov. 29," Bozkır said on Thursday.
According to the March 7 draft proposal, Ankara is asking for an additional 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in funds to help the refugees in Turkey, the lifting of the visa requirement for Turkish citizens by the end of June and opening five new chapters in Turkey's long-stalled bid to join the EU. In return, Turkey will accept to take back all Syrian migrants on the Greek islands while the EU will then admit directly from Turkey one Syrian refugee for every Syrian readmitted to Turkey from the Greek islands. The proposal, which would make Turkey a central pillar of the divided EU's response to the crisis, has been hailed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the "first real chance" to end the influx of refugees and migrants. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency also said on Thursday that the EU has "no alternative" but to sign a deal with Turkey, stressing that the deal could halt the flow of migrants to Europe within a month. However, several EU countries are reluctant to seal the deal, and apparently tough bargaining awaits leaders at today's Turkey-EU summit.
Bozkır said that they are ready for hard bargaining and hours-long negotiations. "Negotiations will likely to continue until early Saturday and the EU joint declaration will be released if we reach an agreement. But it depends on the acceptance of Turkey's terms offered on March 7," he said.
Bozkır also criticized the Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades's remarks that Greek Cyprus would block Turkey's EU accession if it does not recognize the country. Earlier this week Anastasiades announced that Cyprus will not comply with opening new chapters in Turkey's EU accession. Commenting on this issue, Bozkır drew attention to the upcoming election in Greek Cyprus in May and contended that Anastasiades's comments were due to domestic pressure. However, Bozkır said that Greek Cyprus is not a immune member of the EU and cannot act as if the refugee crisis is not their problem while other EU countries are taking steps to shoulder the responsibility. "Even though there is public pressure to the refugee deal, all EU countries are taking important steps to shoulder the responsibility. Greek Cyprus is not exempt from it. With our meeting with European Council President [Donald] Tusk in Ankara we stressed that the European Union must not allow Greek Cyprus to spoil the deal," he said. Bozkır also said that it is out of question for Turkey to make any concessions to Greek Cyprus such as opening Turkey's sea ports to Greek Cypriot vessels.