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Turkey Continues Failing to Fulfil Outstanding EU Visa Liberalisation Benchmarks, Commission Says

The EU Commission has explained in its latest report that Turkey hasn’t fulfilled any outstanding visa liberalisation benchmarks, meaning that the country still needs to align its legislation with the European Union regarding the visa policy.

Following the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement, Turkey’s visa liberalisation process began at the end of 2013. However, until the country meets the benchmarks that have been set by the authorities of the EU, citizens of Turkey won’t be permitted visa-free entry to the 26 Schengen Area countries, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports

Previously, the EU Commission supported visa-free travel to the Schengen Area for Turkish citizens. Nonetheless, the process still needs time to be finalised as Turkey has failed to meet five out of 72 benchmarks.

The five other criteria that Turkey needs to meet are as follows:

  • Fight corruption
  • Comply with the EU standards on personal data legislation
  • Conclude and operational agreement with Europol
  • Offer effective judicial cooperation to the EU Member States regarding criminal matters
  • Revise legislation practices on terrorism in line with the EU standards

According to the latest findings report by the EU Commission that was published yesterday, October 19, the country continues to have severe deficiencies in the functioning of its democratic institutions.

Furthermore, the security situation has remained precarious in border areas that have recurrent terrorist acts by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which remain on the EU’s list of persons, groups, and entities involved in terrorist acts.

Serious backslidings on civil society issues have also continued. Civil society has faced continuous pressure, and their space to operate freely has diminished, limiting their freedom of expression and association.

Regarding the fight against corruption, the Commission revealed that Turkey has remained at an early stage of preparations and has not made any significant progress.

The country hasn’t established its anti-corruption bodies yet and needs to improve the accountability and transparency of public institutions. Consequently, this absence of an anti-corruption strategy has indicated a lack of will to fight corruption.

Additionally, through the same report, the Commission has explained that Turkey’s assertive foreign policy continued to collide with the priorities of the EU under the CFSP, mainly due to its support for military actions in Syria, Iraq, and the Caucasus.

“The EU has repeatedly stressed the need for Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of EU Member States, which include entering into bilateral agreements and exploring and exploiting their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the statement of Commission reads.

Moreover, it has been emphasised that Turkey has failed to ensure non-discriminatory and full implementation of the Additional Protocol to the EU-Turkey Association Agreement and the removal of obstacles related to the free movement of goods, including the restrictions on transport links with Cyprus.

Concerning the ability to assume the obligation of membership, the alignment of Turkey with the EU acquis was quite limited, and according to the Commission, it was “pursued on a rather ad hoc basis.”

Previously, the EU allocated a 149.6 million financial fund in support of Syrian refugees in Turkey, which are aimed to cover essential needs, such as transport, rent, food, bills, and medicine.

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