Turkey must 'do better' on immigration: French minister

Published 19.10.2010 13:41

French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said Monday in Nicosia that Turkey must "do better" on immigration by protecting its borders and readmitting illegal migrants.

(NICOSIA) - "Cyprus requires that Turkey plays a better role in protecting its external borders and in the readmission of irregulars," Besson told AFP during a visit to the Mediterranean island.

"Turkey must do better, especially since it has opened at the same time several chapters in (accession) negotiations with the European Union.

"We need concrete signs from Turkey on the readmission of illegal people," Besson added.

France has been a vocal opponent of Turkey's ambition to join the 27-nation bloc and argues the mainly Muslim country of about 73 million people should settle for a "privileged partnership" rather than full membership.

Eight of 35 negotiation chapters remain completely frozen due to Turkey's refusal to open its ports to EU member Cyprus.

The island has been divided between its Greek and Turkish communities since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north after a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at unifying the island with Greece.

The porous border demarcating the Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north, which is recognised only by Turkey, facilitates the entry of illegal immigrants into south Cyprus.

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