Following a meeting with the French President Francois Hollande on October 23 in Athens, the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said that their governments agreed to pursue EU accession process of Turkey, but without concessions on accepted principles.
Turkey’s EU accession talks have been long stalled because of Europe’s concerns over Ankara’s human rights record and the government crackdown on dissent.
But, just ahead of the crucial November elections in Turkey EU leaders offered Ankara the prospect of earlier visa liberation, opening new chapters in accession talks and financial aid in return for Turkey’s badly-needed co-operation in stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to Istanbul on October 18 to discuss an EU action plan on refugees with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PM Ahmet Davutoglu.
“Several issues are still under discussion”, said Davutoglu following the meeting with Merkel, suggesting that the EU offer is not a done deal yet.
In a sign of how difficult it will be to find common ground on Turkey, Cyprus declared on October 19 that it would not lift its objections to Turkish accession negotiations. The reasons Cyprus blocked accession talks with Turkey are still valid, said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides,
"Turkey needs to meet a certain number of obligations and also watch its border but we also must help Turkey, including financially, in welcoming refugees," said Hollande during a visit to Athens.
Turkey says it has already spent close to $8bn to look after more than 2mn Syrians. Ankara reportedly demands up to €3bn from the EU.
Erdogan recently warned that the battle for the Syrian city of Aleppo could trigger a new wave of refugees.
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