No visa-free travel, no migrant deal, says Turkey’s EU minister
VIENNATurkey’s minister for European Union affairs and its chief negotiator with the bloc, Volkan Bozkır, said if the EU does not grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel, Turkey could stop accepting migrants sent from Greece.
“If the EU does not grant visa-free travel [to Turkish citizens] then we can suspend the readmission agreement. This is a bargain. If there is no visa [liberty] then there is no readmission,” said Bozkır on April 13 during his visit to Austrian capital.
Bozkır was referring to the deal signed between the EU and Turkey on March 18, when the sides agreed on a scheme to curb the flow of migrants into the bloc.
Turkey agreed to take back all migrants landing on Greece as of March 20, while the EU would take back the same amount of Syrian refugees from Turkey. In exchange for the migrants returned to Turkey, the EU agreed to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel in EU’s Schengen area, and pledged to give a total of 6 million euros until the end of 2018 to be used to fund better living conditions for Syrians in Turkey.
Bozkır said April 12 that Turkish nationals could expect vise-free travel to the EU by June.
“We expect that the decision for the citizens of the Republic of Turkey to enter the Schengen zone without visa requirement will be made before the end of June,” Bozkır said, following a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders on April 12.
Meanwhile, Kati Piri, rapporteur for Turkey at the European Parliament, said April 13 that she did not believe the free-visa travel would be ready for this summer, citing technical issues.
“Turkey has made a visible progress in the last two years but there are technical issues that need to be handled before the lifting of the visas; I do not believe it will be ready for June,” said Piri, according to the website of private broadcaster CNNTürk.