EU lifts visas for 19 countries in Pacific and Caribbean
BRUSSELSThe European Union has lifted visas on 19 countries in the Pacific and Caribbean zones amid growing frustration in Turkey, which has been waiting for years to acquire the right to visa-free travel to member countries.
The EU Council adopted a regulation amending the regulation listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.
According to the amended regulation, nationals from Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu will be exempt from the visa requirement when travelling to the Schengen zone.
This exemption will come into force only when bilateral agreements on visa waivers between the union and the countries concerned have been concluded in order to ensure full reciprocity, according to a statement from the council.
Turkey signed a long-anticipated agreement with the EU late last year, refreshing hopes for new momentum in stalled bilateral relations between Ankara and Brussels.
The landmark agreement paves the way for EU governments to send back illegal immigrants crossing into Europe from Turkey in exchange for talks on visa-free travel for citizens of the country, which is a candidate for full membership.
In addition to the Readmission Agreement, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also signed an accord to enter into discussions on waiving visa requirements for Turks visiting Europe.
The EU wants Turkey to take back thousands of illegal migrants who have crossed its border into Greece, the EU’s eastern frontier. The deal foresees the lifting of visa restrictions within 3.5 years, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at that time he hoped it could be done much sooner.