EU delegation to visit Turkey mid-May over visa waiver issue
A delegation from the European Union will visit Turkey in mid-May to discuss a visa-free deal and the issue of refugees, EU sources told state-run Anadolu Agency on April 30.
A working plan for Turkish citizens to travel to Schengen countries visa-free, submitted by Turkey to Brussels in February, is currently being examined, said the source, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The technical delegation from the EU Commission will convey its views on the seven outstanding criteria out of a total of 72 that Ankara was expected to fulfill.
On April 4, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told lawmakers in parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that they had already discussed the proposal of visa-free travel with European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
“They will send a technical delegation [on visa liberalization] to Turkey this month and they will convey their views [on visa liberalization] to us,” Çelik said.
In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.
Turkey upset over refugee deal
On April 25, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım criticized the EU for “failing keep its promises” to Turkey over the refugee crisis.
“We made an agreement with the EU to prevent the passage of refugees. There are 3.5 million refugees in our country. We provide shelter for them, vaccinations and healthcare, so we requested a little contribution from the EU as well as new steps in accession negotiations with Turkey,” Yıldırım said in a speech at the Nueva Economic Forum in Madrid.
He added that Turkey demanded visa exemptions and an update of the Customs Union and “shook hands on this.”
“The daily migrant total has fallen below 50 but we have not received the answer we expected. Unfortunately, we are still disappointed,” Yıldırım said.
The EU on March 14 unlocked a further 3 billion euros for refugees in Turkey, the second tranche of the deal.