Turkey mulls formula for visa-free Europe

Turkey mulls formula for visa-free Europe

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey mulls formula for visa-free Europe

A visa queue in front of the German Embassy in Istanbul is seen in this 2011 photo. Ankara considers putting a paraphto a readmission agreement in return for a visa agreement. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Turkey anticipates that a meeting on April 26 with the European Union’s Internal Affairs Commission will yield progress on visa liberalization.

“Turkey’s putting initials to [not adopting the accord but agreeing to the text] a readmission agreement in return for an E.U. statement authorizing the European Commission to begin discussing visa exemption for Turkish nationals,” could be a formula to pave the way out of the longstanding deadlock, according to a Turkish official.

Ankara steps up pressure
Turkey has stepped up pressure on the E.U. in a bid to ensure that the European Council gives the go-ahead for talks on a visa-free travel regime for Turkish nationals. Previous initiatives failed last year when the European Council asked Turkey to sign a readmission agreement, saying they would return to the visa issue later. After negotiations on the simultaneous timing of signing the readmission agreement, the parties agreed on a formula which would be a step toward removing visa requirements for Turkish nationals. A verbal statement authorizing the European Commission to start talks with Ankara on visa exemption would be a step forward, despite the possibility that some E.U. member states may stir up trouble later.

“If some member states, such as Austria, Germany and France, which objected before, reject the visa agreement, then Turkey will not be required to adhere to the readmission agreement, since it would only be approving the text of the agreement,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday the current one-year visa granted to Turkish businessmen in Romania will be extended to five years. Bağış expressed his hope that decisions would be made about visas during April 26 meeting. Visa-free entrance to the Schengen zone for Turkish citizens would be mostly in the interest of Romania, Greece and Bulgaria, he said.