EU commissioner urges start of visa dialogue

EU commissioner urges start of visa dialogue

EU commissioner urges start of visa dialogue

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström calls on EU member states to rapidly begin visa dialogue with Turkey, in response to a letter from Egemen Bağış. AFP photo

The European Union’s member states should rapidly begin visa dialogue with Turkey, the bloc’s commissioner responsible for enlargement said April 2.

“The EU is expecting Turkey to sign and put into effect the readmission agreement, but Turkey is also expecting the EU to initiate visa dialogue,” Cecilia Malström told reporters during a joint press conference with Greek Civil Protection Minister Mihalis Hrisohoidis. “We should begin visa dialogue in a very short time.”

Negotiations on the readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey were completed two years ago, Anatolia news agency reported.

Hrisohoidis said his country supported the idea of Turkey opening visa dialogue with the EU and added that fences that were being constructed along the Greek-Turkish border were only a temporary measure designed to fight the flow of illegal migration.

Malström’s statement came after Turkey officially called on the EU to issue visa-free travel rights to Turkish citizens in line with a number of European courts’ verdicts and bilateral agreements between Turkey and the EU.

EU Minister Egemen Bağış has sent letters on the matter to EU Commissioner Responsible for Enlargement Stefan Füle and Malström, his office said in a statement April 2.

“The current Schengen visa regime against Turkish citizens constitutes an obstacle to the strengthening of relations between the Turkish people and the peoples of the EU, as it prevents people-to-people contact, which is indispensable for the EU accession process,” the statement from Bağış’s office said.

“[EU] members must understand that free movement is a right for Turkish citizens and we will do everything we can to have this right recognized,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told Euronews on April 2. “It is hard to understand politically the visa restrictions while some Latin America countries that are not even candidates are exempt from visa regulations. It is not a legitimate attitude.”

Bağış welcomes Zurich’s decision

ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency

EU Minister Egemen Baðýþ has welcomed the Zurich public prosecutor’s decision to drop a preliminary inquiry against him for his denial of Armenian genocide allegations.

“They have done the right thing … I haven’t paid much attention in this matter from the beginning, but they made the right decision,” Baðýþ told reporters after the verdict. The decision was also suitable for the image of Switzerland, he added.

In response to a question from a journalist on what he thought of the bill, Baðýþ had said in Switzerland that he considered it null and void.

“After consulting with the Swiss Foreign Ministry, the prosecutor has concluded that criminal charges against Baðýþ cannot be pursued because he enjoyed immunity during his entire stay in Switzerland,” the Zurich Chief Prosecutor’s Office prosecutor said in a statement.