Turkey won’t get visa-free travel this year: EU
AFP photoEuropean Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said he did not see the European Union granting Turks visa-free travel this year - as agreed in a migration deal - due to Ankara’s crackdown after a failed military coup.
The EU sealed a deal with Turkey in March intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara.
Thousands of members of the police, civil service, judiciary and army have been detained or suspended since the July 15 failed coup, in which more than 230 people were killed when a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power.
“The draft law [on ending visa requirements for Turks] is being debated in the European Parliament right now,” Oettinger, commissioner for digital economy and society, told several regional German newspapers in an interview published on July 18.
“But I predict that we won’t have regulation on visa-free travel before the end of the year,” said Oettinger, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the key driving force behind the migration deal with Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must address the EU’s concerns regarding the principle of the rule of law, he said, adding: “And that’s not what it’s looking like at the moment.”
Oettinger criticized Ankara’s recent decision to lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.
He also slammed the Turkish government for pressure on the media and and intimidating journalists critical of government policies.
“And it cannot be that judges the government does not like are being removed by the thousands. The independence of the judiciary is a tremendous asset,” Oettinger said.
The broad post-coup crackdown and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters drew concern from Western allies who said Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country.
“The death penalty is irreconcilable with our order of values and our treaties. No country can become a member state of the EU if it introduces the death penalty,” Oettinger said.
Erdoğan has said the government would discuss the capital punishment issue with opposition parties.