Turkey hopeful of overcoming EP’s possible resistance on visa waiver

Turkey hopeful of overcoming EP’s possible resistance on visa waiver

Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
Turkey hopeful of overcoming EP’s possible resistance on visa waiver

AFP photo

Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkır has voiced optimism for overcoming possible resistance at the European Parliament over approval of lifting visa requirements for Turkish citizens, after the European Commission said on May 4 that Ankara has met most of the necessary 72 criteria, inviting member states and EU lawmakers to endorse the move by June 30.

“The most difficult leg of this affair will be the European Parliament. The Commission’s proposal will first go to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. After their approval, it will go to the plenary. Every moment will require great effort. Perceptions at the parliament, which we don’t deserve, will have to be broken,” Bozkır told reporters in Ankara on May 4.

He also recalled that he will be visiting Brussels and Strasbourg next week.

“We will meet with European Parliament President [Martin Schulz], some group leaders and influential parliamentarians. If we can explain some things to them by establishing a mechanism for the flow of information, then answers to questions that may arise will also be shaped. I believe there is no point that we cannot overcome,” Bozkır said.

Telephone contacts between Ankara and Brussels on the night of May 3 focused on differences of opinion over the definition of “terrorism” in Turkish legislation, the minister has also said, as amendments to the Anti-Terror Law is one of the final five criteria that the government needs to fulfill in order to obtain the visa waiver for its citizens from the European Union. 

Meanwhile, the Law on International Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters has gone into force after being published in the Official Gazette on May 5, reducing the number of remaining criteria that Turkey has to meet to four.

Also on May 5, Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala and neighboring Bulgaria’s visiting Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova inked a bilateral protocol between the governments of Bulgaria and Turkey regarding implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on readmission of individuals who have illegally overstayed.