The "one for one" refugee deal to relocate migrants in return for money, visa relaxations and EU accession of Turkey has been slammed as illegal by the United Nations, whilst human rights groups accuse the EU of "outsourcing its dirty work".
It also faces stiff opposition from Cyprus, where European Council President Donald Tusk is meeting with the country’s President Nicos Anastasiades.
"There is nothing wrong with strategic partnerships. It is hypocritical to talk about accession at this stage," Andreas Theophanous, professor of political economy at the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs told Sputnik.
"I understand Turkey is important in playing a role. But if you want to play a game, well Turkey should open up chapters on its obligations to Cyprus," Professor Theophanous explains.
"When Turkey started accession discussions, it took on certain obligations under the Ankara Agreement that it has not yet fulfilled. Any self-respecting leader cannot bypass this."
The European Union states that: "Due to the Turkish failure to apply to Cyprus the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement the Council decided in December 2006 that eight relevant chapters will not be opened and no chapter will be provisionally closed until Turkey has fulfilled its commitment".
Professor Theophanous however told Sputnik:
"For me, the whole issue with Europe and Turkey is that there should be special relation, a special partnership. [Leaders should] discuss cooperation, not accession chapters. Turkey is not a European nation… I don’t see Turkey filling the criteria, irrespective of Cyprus."
The Cyprus dispute – or Cyprus question — is the longest running diplomatic conflict in the West which dates back to 1914, when the island was annexed by the British Empire. Sixty years later, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus occupying the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, and formed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
In 2004, Cyprus became a member of the European Union – but only the southern Greek Cypriot region – the northern part, is only internationally recognized by Turkey.
In October 2015, the Cyprus foreign minister said it would not end its veto of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations.
"The reasons they [the negotiations] were frozen have not ceased to exist," Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told Greek state broadcaster NET.
Professor Theophanous believes that the European Union fails to address issues as a union – but rather reflects the national interests of "various players according to which is stronger".
"When it comes to economic policies, it reflects the German predisposition to the detriment of the rest, especially southern EU countries. And now in relation to the humanitarian crisis, it seems certain, central and western European countries want to pass the problem elsewhere."
"I couldn’t believe what the EU did do us three years ago, and now they call it a success story. Sadly it’s only a success story compared with Greece which they have completely destroyed," Professor Theophanous told Sputnik.
"I think the European Union needs to be more honest with itself. Take the situation in Greece, which has suffered the most from the refugee crisis — but Turkey gets all the money."
"The EU has lost its raison d’etre."
Following his visit to Cyprus, Donald Tusk hopes to draft a "rebalanced" EU-Turkey plan.