EU opens new phase in Turkey mem­ber­ship bid

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS—The EU has opened a new chap­ter in Turkey’s EU mem­ber­ship talks, cov­er­ing bud­get con­tri­bu­tions to the bloc.

By mov­ing on with the ne­go­ti­a­tions the EU is de­liv­er­ing on a pledge it made to Turkey in March, said Slo­vakia - the coun­try now set to man­age EU af­fairs.

Turkey’s bid to join the EU is highly con­tro­ver­sial and fea­tured promi­nently in the UK’s EU ref­er­en­dum cam­paign.

Turkey de­manded progress on its bid in re­turn for tak­ing back mi­grants who want to seek asy­lum in the EU.

Un­der the March deal, Turkey was also promised visa-free travel to the EU’s Schen­gen area, if it com­plied with a se­ries of de­mands.

Chap­ter 33 on fi­nan­cial and bud­getary pro­vi­sions is the 16th chap­ter to be opened with Turkey, out of a to­tal of 35.

But five chap­ters in Turkey’s talks are still blocked be­cause of a dis­pute be­tween the gov­ern­ments in Ankara and Cyprus.

Turkey does not recog­nise the Repub­lic of Cyprus, whose Greek Cypriot lead­ers de­mand an end to Turk­ish con­trol in the is­land’s north.

There is wide­spread con­cern in the EU about the pos­si­bil­ity of a fu­ture in­flux of Turk­ish work­ers. As a large, mainly Mus­lim coun­try Turkey would sig­nif­i­cantly change the char­ac­ter of the EU.

The Leave cam­paign in the UK ref­er­en­dum warned that the EU was pre­par­ing for Turkey to join.

The Re­main camp how­ever ar­gued that Turk­ish mem­ber­ship was only a dis­tant prospect and might never hap­pen.

Turkey’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu tweeted that Turkey had met “al­most all” of the cri­te­ria de­manded by the EU un­der the March deal so, he ar­gued, the EU should now ful­fil the visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion pledge. It would mean Turks get­ting visa-free travel to most of Europe.

Be­fore the March deal Greece was over­whelmed by the chal­lenge of hous­ing mi­grants and refugees ar­riv­ing by boat from Turkey.

The on­ward move­ment of mi­grants - many of them flee­ing the con­flicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - put se­vere strains on the EU, as most of them wanted to set­tle in Ger­many.

But since the deal was struck the num­bers cross­ing the Aegean from Turkey to Greece have dropped dra­mat­i­cally.—Agen­cies

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