Turkey to ditch visa demands for Greek Cypriots | News | DW | 03.05.2016
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Turkey to ditch visa demands for Greek Cypriots

The government in Ankara will stop demanding visas from Greek Cypriots visiting Turkey, but it will not recognize the Cypriot government in Nicosia. Turkey is hoping for far greater visa-free perks of its own, very soon.

Turkey announced on Tuesday that Greek Cypriots would be able to visit the country without a visa in future.

"This doesn't mean the recognition of Cyprus. If the EU abolishes visas for Turkish citizens, then we will also abolish visas for the remaining EU countries," said a Turkish official.

The island nation has long been arguably the single greatest obstacle to Turkey’s dealings with the European Union. Divided for decades, Ankara only recognizes the Turkish-controlled north while the majority-Greek southern half of Cyprus is internationally recognized and a member state of the EU. EU member states can veto another country's bid to join the Union without any further support within the bloc.

As part of the refugee relocation deal with the EU, Turkey negotiated the chance of visa-free travel for its citizens in Europe. A deadline for the European Commission to decide whether to grant Turkey this, a deal that in theory is dependent on Ankara meeting 72 preconditions, falls on Wednesday. According to Germany's "Bild" newspaper, the BBC and others, citing EU sources, Europe would approve the move on Wednesday despite Turkey not having fulfilled every condition.

Under the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU, Ankara would take back migrants who had crossed into Europe illegally, in exchange for a number of concessions, including reigniting the review process for Turkey's EU membership and entry into the Schengen free movement zone for short-term travel without visas for the country's 79 million inhabitants.

Erdogan: We're not taking in refugees for thanks

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened the EU in early April that Turkey would pull out of its commitments if these parts of the agreement were not implemented by June.

"Some three million people are being fed on our budget," the president said back then. "We have received a lot of thanks for our actions on the refugees and in the fight against terrorism. But we are not doing this for thanks."

Among other perks, Turkey was also promised between 3 billion and 6 billion euros to accommodate refugees, and a restart to its long-stalled bid to one day join the EU.

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