EU commissioner sends warm message to Turkey on visa deal
ISTANBULA European Union commissioner has expressed “understanding” for Turkey amid ongoing demands by Brussels for Turkey to change its anti-terror law as part of the visa-free travel deal for Turkish citizens inside the EU.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, told Germany’s Tagesspiel newspaper on July 10 that there is “pressure on Turkey” in its fight against terrorism.
“We should not underestimate the fact that there is enormous pressure on the shoulders of the Turkish government in its fight against terrorism,” Avramopoulos said.
The EU has put a change in Turkey’s anti-terror law as a prerequisite for the realization of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens to enter the visa-free Schengen area.
Turkey and the EU have been discussing visa liberalization since 2013 and agreed in March to go ahead with it as part of the deal to halt illegal immigration from Turkey to the EU.
But progress stalled when Brussels insisted that Ankara must also reform its tough anti-terrorism laws.
The EU says Turkey must narrow its definition of terrorist crimes, but Turkey says its laws are crucial to its fight with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Officials on both sides have said agreement on visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, unpopular in many EU states, is now unlikely until the autumn at the earliest.