Sunday April 20, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
11o C
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Turkey signs EU migrant pact as relations thaw

Turkey signed a long-awaited deal with the European Union on Monday to send back people who enter the bloc illegally from its territory in exchange for talks on visa-free travel for its citizens.

The move, hailed as a "milestone" in EU-Turkish relations, comes six weeks after Ankara resumed talks to join the bloc, ending a 40-month freeze.

The EU has committed to ensuring visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in 2017 at the earliest in return for Turkey signing the agreement.

"The gateway to Europe without a visa will now be open," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, pledging that Turkey would fulfil its obligations.

Erdogan said he would be heading to Brussels next month while French President Francois Hollande is due to visit Turkey on January 27-28.

"These visits represent an opportunity to give a new impetus, a new enthusiasm to our relations with the European Union," he said.

The EU wants Turkey, a crossroads between Europe and Asia, to take back thousands of illegal migrants who have crossed its borders into Greece, the EUs eastern frontier.

The deal had stalled in 2012, with Turkey refusing to sign as the EU would not commit to starting negotiations on the visa-free travel regime applied to other candidate countries.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed the accord with the 28-nation bloc’s Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom at a ceremony in Ankara.

Both Ankara and Brussels hailed it as "milestone" in Turkish-EU relations but observers warn that the process might come to a standstill if Turkey -- considered the main transit country for illegal immigrants from Asia -- fails to live up to its commitments.

But Erdogan was adamant.

"We will not be a burden but instead share the burden," he said.

The predominantly Muslim country of 76 million resumed talks in November to gain entry into the EU after a three-year freeze.

Brussels was going to open talks in June but decided to postpone them for several months in response to the Turkish government’s deadly crackdown on mass street protests that rocked the country that month.

Turkey, a regional Sunni Muslim power, has found itself losing influence in its backyard in the wake of the Syrian civil war and the Arab Spring uprisings.

"The EU has come to realise that it has to defend some segments within Turkish society and revive the talks," Nilgun Arisan Eralp of Ankara-based think tank TEPAV, told AFP.

"And Turkey is inching toward the EU because it is increasingly isolated in the Middle East," she added.

Turkey’s efforts to join the EU formally started in 2005 but stalled due to several stumbling blocks including a territorial dispute with member Cyprus and opposition from heavyweights France and Germany.

Hollandes trip follows Frances decision to lift its blockade on one of the chapters or policy areas that each candidate state is required to complete for full membership.

As a staunch opponent of Turkey’s EU membership bid, France has blocked five chapters on the grounds that their opening would automatically guarantee full membership.

The French objections came from former president Nicolas Sarkozy who argued that Turkey was not part of Europe but Ankara sees Hollande as more open to its European ambitions. [AFP] , Monday December 16, 2013 (14:28)  
Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
Talks lined up in wake of ‘shameful’ soccer scenes
Dimou quits To Potami over Holy Fire quip
Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
Greece's third largest lender Eurobank, which is issuing new shares to help plug a capital shortfall, said on Friday that the cash call will take place from April 25 to 29. The transaction o...
PPC to issue corporate bond of 500 mln
Public Power Corporation is planning to tap the markets after Easter with the issue of a corporate bond to draw 500 million euros. The Energy Ministry is also eagerly awaiting the issue, as ...
Inside Business
Greens lose badly as CSKA Moscow
Panathinaikos has a mountain to climb in order to reach the Final Four of the Euroleague after losing at CSKA Moscow on Friday for a second time in two days, only this time it was comprehens...
Former Red Bourousis wrecks Olympiakos´s hopes for a break
Olympiakos tried harder in Game 2 of the Euroleague play-offs in Spain, and Real Madrid was not as good on Thursday as in Game 1, but the Spaniards still emerged victorious on the night with...
Inside Sports
The placebo effect and the economy
Among the greatest mistakes made in the years of Greece’s hard landing is that citizens did not get the chance to sense that aside from austerity and pain the economic adjustment program als...
Ukraine is a crisis—but not a Cold War
Given Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the imposition of US and European sanctions, and the potential for more escalation in Ukraine, we are witnessing the most important geopolitical events s...
Inside Comment
1. Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
2. Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
3. Greens lose badly as CSKA Moscow
4. Former Red Bourousis wrecks Olympiakos´s hopes for a break
5. PPC to issue corporate bond of 500 mln
6. Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
more news
This Week
1. Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
2. Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
This Week
1. Greece's market return mirrors return of tourists
2. Parties start announcing candidates for European Parliament elections
3. Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone
4. Samaras sees no need for third bailout
5. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
6. IMF's Thomsen says Greece not fully financed to 2016
   Find us ...
  ... on
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.