Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe

Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe

Refugees and migrants on a rubber boat arrive at the Greek island of Lesbos early on March 20, 2016. AFP photo

Turkey has fulfilled 61 of 72 criteria required for its citizens to travel to Schengen countries without a visa and plans to complete the adoption of the remaining seven international conventions and four laws before May 4, the date the EU Commission will outline its advisory report. 

A comprehensive deal secured between Turkey and the EU on March 18 stipulated the former to accept all irregular migrants who arrived in Greece via the Aegean Sea in return for a visa waiver for its citizens starting from the end of June, as well as reenergizing stalled accession talks and 6 million euros in financial assistance for Syrian refugees it has been sheltering. 

With the successful implementation of the migrant deal, which has significantly reduced the number of irregular migrants seeking refuge on Greece’s islands, Turkey’s expectation for visa liberalization now sit at the core of intense talks between Ankara and Brussels. 

EU leaders have already underlined that these 72 criteria will not be watered down for Turkey and they will seek full fulfillment of them to grant Turkish citizens visa exemptions in their touristic visits to 26 Schengen countries. Turkish leaders, on the other hand, recalled the agreement with the EU and openly said readmission of irregular migrants would be halted if Brussels did not keep its word. 

“What we sense from our recent talks with EU leaders is that the EU Commission report will be a positive one,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. The report is planned to be released on May 4, before the visa waiver for Turkish citizens will be voted on in the European Parliament.  

There are seven international conventions which need to be ratified by parliament and four laws Turkey must accomplish to reach all benchmarks, as of April 20, two weeks before the deadline. The list is as follows:

-Additional protocols of 1975, 2010 and 2012 to the Council of Europe Conventions on Extradition. (Approved at the parliament’s Foreign Affairs’ Commission on April 20)

-Article 30, including the Additional Protocol of 2001 of the Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. (Approved at the commission on April 20) 

-The 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. (Needs General Assembly voting)

-The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. (Needs General Assembly voting)

-The Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data of 1981 and its Additional Protocol no 181. (Needs General Assembly voting)

-An agreement between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria for the establishment and implementation of a joint police and custom cooperation liaison office. (Requires a governmental decree)

-Additional Protocol No. 4 the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). 

-Draft law on judicial cooperation in criminal matters. (Needs to be ratified by parliament)

-Draft law on the establishment of a law enforcement monitoring commission. 

-Draft law on political ethics. 

-Draft law on crime revenues.