NEWS

Ankara snubs migrant repatriation pact

While Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday pledged to work together on bilateral issues in their first meeting on the sidelines of an international summit on Corfu, Turkey's Minister for European Union Affairs revealed, in an interview published in yesterday's Kathimerini, that Ankara would not be honoring a bilateral repatriation pact with Greece. «We refuse to become the world's biggest refugee camp,» Egemin Bagis said, noting that bilateral pacts such as the one signed by Athens and Ankara should only be honored if similar pacts are agreed between so-called transit countries for would-be migrants, such as Turkey, and countries of origin, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bagis also reiterated Ankara's opposition to the idea of a special partnership for Turkey with the EU. «We will accept nothing less than full membership. There is no alternative.» Asked about Greek calls for the reopening of the Orthodox Seminary on the island of Halki near Istanbul, Bagis said he backed it in principle but linked it to the thorny issue of the Muslim minority in Thrace. Meanwhile, Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay indicated, in an interview with the Turkish mass-circulation daily Milliyet, that Ankara was leaning toward reopening the seminary. «Both my personal and the general inclination is that the school will be opened,» Gunay was quoted as saying.

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