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06 Jul 2018

Turkey must recognize Cyprus to gain visa-free EU travel: EU report

Turkey must recognize Cyprus to gain visa-free EU travel: EU reportTurkey will not be able to get its much sought-after visa liberalization, even if it has met all the other benchmarks, unless it recognizes the Republic of Cyprus as an independent country, an EU reports suggests.

The report, which was approved with the majority vote of the European Parliament on Wednesday, stressed out that among the perquisites for launching negotiations for visa-free travel with Schengen, Turkey shall also have effective “cooperation with all Member States on justice and home affairs issues, including with the Republic of Cyprus.” What means that Turkey will have to establish diplomatic relations with the Greek Republic of Cyprus, by recognizing its independence, which the country has refused to do since the division of the island into Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot states in 1974.

Now it is the closest Turkey has ever been to reaching a visa-free travel agreement with the EU, after it signed a migration deal with the EU in 2016. The implementation of the deal has been delayed because of Turkey’s anti-terrorism law, which is among the last benchmarks Turkey has to fulfill in order to win visa liberalization for its citizens, alongside the deal with the European Police Service (Europol), and regulations on the protection of personal data.

Two years after the coup d’etat attempt that took place in Turkey in 2016, thousands remain in Turkish prisons under the current terrorism law, charged with membership to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or FETO organization, which President Erdogan accuses for the putsch.

At the same time, thousands of warrants have been issued for others who live in foreign countries since the coup, or even before. Human rights groups insist that the Turkish terrorism law is open to abuse and human rights violation has been taking place in Turkey since the government announced state of emergency. 

Brief History of Turkey-Cyprus relations

The island of Cyprus has been the largest source of tension between Greece and Turkey since 1974, after the coup d’etat that took place in the island in an attempt of the Greek military junta to join the island with Greece, which resulted on an armed conflict in the island. Prior to the coup, Cyprus had attained independence in 1960 after the Zürich and London Agreement between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey.

In 2004 referendum the island, 1/3 of which is populated by Turk Cypriots and the rest by Greek Cypriots, failed to get the support of the Greek Cypriots. As a result, the Republic of Cyprus in 2008 reopened inter-communal talks with the Turkish Cypriot side in order to establish together a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation. Despite of the disagreements on the Cyprus issue, Greece continues to support Turkey’s EU aspirations.

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