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Cypriot threat to the Brussels-Ankara agreement

Reactions to the EU-Turkey deal continue to feature widely in today’s media, while many, such as The WSJE, say that the issue of the formal recognition of Cyprus as a sovereign state by Turkey could blockage the deal’s completion. Tageszeitung’s Eric Bonse reports that following Bulgaria, France and Spain, Cyprus has raised “massive resistance” to the agreement. Mr Bonse adds that European Council President Donald Tusk, who was in Nicosia on Tuesday to prepare the upcoming EU summit, spoke of high hurdles.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said his government would block any deal as long as Ankara does not officially recognise Cyprus. Thus, Mr Tusk and the European Commission would have to work “minor miracles” if they want the deal to go through, Mr Bonse concludes. Turkish newspaper Miliyet features statements made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s at a press conference. “We have made an offer based on sensitivity to humanity. We have made this offer due to our moral responsibility. We have never bargained on money,” Mr Davutoğlu underlined.

As tomorrow’s EU summit in which the EU-Turkey refugee agreement is to be endorsed approaches, intensive diplomatic preparations for the deal that is expected to become a turning point in the battle with the crisis are underway, reports Delo. Jyllands-Posten notes, however, that European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is optimistic about the chances of a deal; an opinion also expressed in Il Sole 24 Ore. The European Commission said that “the project is legal and feasible”, but the European Commission and Council’s lawyers are working to “make the project legal,” notes Le Soir. In an interview granted to Hamburger Abendblatt, European Parliament President Martin Schulz says that the already agreed mechanism to distribute 160,000 refugees within the EU has to work first in order for the deal with Turkey to be successful. Mr Schulz further considers that Commission President Juncker and the EC should “now clearly” send the message to refugees that they will be protected, yet not all will be able to find refuge in Germany or Sweden but elsewhere, too.

Concerns and criticism of the deal and of Europe are still being expressed. An editorial in The Times says that a deal is important, but is unlikely to lead to Turkey being allowed to join the EU. It concludes by suggesting that the situation may lead to “the European project itself” entering another existential crisis. A Washington Post editorial, whose headline simply reads “Europe’s dilemma,” points out that the EU is throwing its values overboard by instigating what is described as a desperate plan to control migration by striking a deal with Turkey. Along the same lines, L’Opinion’s Isabelle Marchais reports that Europeans “keep crossing one red line after the other” in the refugee crisis. She underlines, for instance, that the projected EU-Turkey agreement has been “raising many questions”, notably from NGOs, concerned by the possibility of “arbitrary collective expulsions”, which are illegal under international law.

Ensuring the legality of the dispositions by Friday is a “long shot”, points out Ms Marchais. If the EU agreement with Turkey is realised, the greatest migrant crisis Europe has faced since World War will be solved, believes Tomislav Krasnec in a Večernji list commentary. However, Turkey is not going to fulfill the agreement if the visa system for its citizens is not abolished. It is hard to expect France or the European Parliament to green-light any such deal, adds Mr Krasnec. Kronen Zeitung reports that Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner wrote in a protest letter to the European Commission that the planned asylum agreement between the EU and Turkey must not create any additional risks, warning Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos against a rushed asylum pact.

In other related news, sigmalive.com, tovima.gr, La Tg 7, Monitor Daily, as well as other outlets, report that yesterday Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos appealed for the relocation of refugees from the Idomeni camp to other safer places in Greece or other EU member states. The Commissioner, who was accompanied by EC Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, visited the Idomeni refugee camp where he met with refugees and representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Doctors without Borders, the European Asylum Support Office and Frontex. “What we see in Idomeni must be the last chapter of a tragedy. We must stop it”, urged Commissioner Avramopoulos, as reported in Kathimerini.

“Our priority now is for relocation of the refugees to become part of the humanitarian aid,” he underlined, quoted by Monitor Daily, adding that “we are here to confirm again our solidarity and support towards Greece”, as noted on Tovima.gr. Magyar Idők, ANT1, Lithuania’s TV3 and Tg1, for instance, report that hundreds of migrants were sent back to Greece after trying to enter former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A spokesperson for former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov said that the country will not allow the reopening of the Balkans route, adds Magyar Idők. It is also said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged the refugees on the border to move to reception centres.

Meanwhile, in an interview with El País, Lesbos mayor Spyros Galinos accuses EU policy of being “the cause of shipwrecks of vessels arriving with refugees on shores like Greece’s.” “EU Commissioners privately recognise that the best solution would be to register refugees in Turkey and from there to implement safe passage, but later they opt for other things. Let these people to the mercy of traffickers or xenophobic groups they may come across,” says Mr Galinos.

 

 

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