(K) Tsipras visits Turkey for critical discussions on the refugee crisis, terrorism and Cyprus

(K) Tsipras visits Turkey for critical discussions on the refugee crisis, terrorism and Cyprus

Under the heavy shadow of the terrorist attacks on Friday in Paris, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is paying a two-day visit from tomorrow to Turkey, for discussions with the authorities there mainly on the refugee crisis. Talks will also include discussions on Cyprus too.

Official talks, first with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglou and then with President Tayip Erdogan, will be held in Ankara on Wednesday.

Alexis Tsipras arrives in Istanbul on Tuesday, where he will be received at the Phanar by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and will then have initial informal talks with Prime Minister Davutoglou. Later in the evening, they will both attend a friendly football match in the city between Turkey and Greece.

Athens announced that talks between Tsipras and Davutoglou will be centered on regional developments, with emphasis on the refugee crisis, and bilateral relations.

According to CNA sources in the Greek capital, Turkey is expected to insist on linking its involvement in managing the refugee issue with a cash compensation of approximately 3 billion euros, a lifting of visa requirements for Turkish citizens in the EU, and fast-tracking the membership negotiations in the Union with an immediate opening of specific chapters which have been vetoed by Cyprus.
The same sources say that Mr Tsipras will repeat Greece’s position that Turkey’s membership in the EU depends on «well understood preconditions» set by the member-states, one of which is Ankara’s substantial contribution towards a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.

Diplomatic sources however in Athens have underlined that under these special developments with the refugee crisis and the terrorist threats throughout Europe, the two sides will approach the Cyprus issue in their talks in Ankara “in a very cautious and moderate way”.

Greek political analysts stress that in the light of the refugee crisis, Turkey has an “upgraded role” in the area, and seems to be determined to safeguard issues important to her in exchange for services offered in dealing with the way refugees will be channeled towards mainland Europe.

On this, Greece has insisted that the only realistic solution to the problem is creating hot spots in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, since these are the countries of “first arrival” for most of the people fleeing Syria and Iraq.

On his visit to Turkey Mr Tsipras will be accompanied by his Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Deputy Minister for Immigration Policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, and the Government Spokeswoman, Olga Gerovasili.