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EU Commission to Support Visa-Free Travel to Schengen Area for Turkish Citizens

The European Union’s Commission is set to support visa-free entry to the 26 Schengen Area countries for holders of Turkish biometric passports, sources within the Commission have told BBC.

While BBC gives no further details on the issue, on September 30, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens would be brought back to the table during October, when Turkish and EU officials are set to meet.

According to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey, Faruk Kaymakcı, aside from the visa liberalisation, the parties will also be discussing migration, interior affairs and security.

We will also analyse if we can bring a new perspective to the Turkey-EU migration issue,” Kaymakcı said, noting that providing funds to migrants and refugees in Turkey does not solve the problem.

The process to enable Turkish citizens to travel visa-free to the Schengen Area countries began at the end of 2013, following the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement. The process hasn’t been finalised yet, as Turkey has failed to meet five out of the 72 benchmarks listed in the roadmap to visa liberalisation.

So far, the following five criteria remain to be met:

  • fighting corruption
  • complying with the EU standards personal data protection legislation
  • concluding an operational cooperation deal with Europol
  • offering effective judicial cooperation to the Member States in criminal matters
  • revising the legislation and practices on terrorism in compliance with EU standards

In March 2016, the heads of the EU countries and Turkey reached an agreement to end the irregular migration from Turkey to Greece, which foresaw Turkey taking back migrants who left its territory to Greece.

Through the agreement, the EU promised to Turkey  to accelerate the visa liberalisation process “with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016.”

Such a thing has not happened yet, and the EU has often been accused of not fulfilling its part of the agreement. Only this week, Greek politician Notis Mitarachi commented on the issue, calling on the EU to keep its word.

The EU has also made promises to Turkey, with regards to visa liberalisation and trade, and it must abide by these commitments. And we are expecting Turkey to implement what was agreed upon,” Mitarachi told German Die Welt.

Aside from the visa liberalisation issue, Turkish authorities have also accused the EU of failing to fully provide €6 billion ($7 billion) in aid to Turkey to handle the migration situation, which has been part of the agreement as well.

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