EU sets October 2016 as date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens

EU sets October 2016 as date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens

Güven Özalp – BRUSSELS
EU sets October 2016 as date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens

In this file photo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. AP Photo

A European Union draft document, which is expected to be released after a Nov. 29 meeting with Turkey and has been seen by daily Hürriyet, has set October 2016 as the target date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens. 

The European Union’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) was set to study the document on Nov. 26. 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was expected to join the meeting with the European Union, where relations and a joint program for migrants to Turkey will be handled. 

The European Union will prepare a report in March 2016 on the situation of a readmission agreement, which basically covers third-country citizens who traveled to Europe from Turkey, and visa liberalization, which is closely linked to the readmission deal. 

Turkey is scheduled to fully implement the readmission agreement with all EU member countries as of June 2016, which requires the country to recognize Greek Cyprus. Both Turkish diplomacy sources and EU authorities have said they aim for a solution on the divided Cyprus by spring next year. 

The document will also welcome European Commission preparation for Turkey’s EU membership talks on chapters covering “energy,” “the judiciary and basic rights,” “justice, freedom and security,” “education and culture” and “foreign, security and defense policies.”

The draft also highlights that a previously decided 3 billion euros of support to Turkey for refugees is a starter amount. Some 500 million euros of the support will be met by the EU budget, while the financing of the remainder will be decided by Dec. 21. 

Turkey currently hosts around 2 million refugees who have fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.