Turkey’s EU minister heads to Strasbourg for thorny visa talks with EP

Turkey’s EU minister heads to Strasbourg for thorny visa talks with EP

Turkey’s EU minister heads to Strasbourg for thorny visa talks with EP

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Turkey’s EU minister has embarked on an intense lobbying visit to Strasbourg and Brussels, as the European Parliament’s plenary is scheduled on May 11 to debate last week’s proposal by the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens.

Days after expressing optimism in overcoming possible resistance at the EP over the approval of lifting visa requirements for Turkish citizens despite having acknowledged that the EP would be “the most difficult leg of this affair,” Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said as he was set to depart on May 10 to hold official meetings in Strasbourg and Brussels with senior figures from the EP and the European Commission, as well as from the Council of Europe, until May 13.

Bozkır is to hold separate meetings with EP President Martin Schulz, European People’s Party (EPP) Group Chair Manfred Weber, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group Chair Gianni Pittella, European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group Chair Syed Kamall and EPP member MEP Anna Maria-Corazza Bildt, the EU Ministry said in a statement released on May 10.

“In his official visit to Strasbourg, Bozkır will exchange views regarding the recent proposal of the European Commission on visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen area and Turkey’s reform process and accession process to the EU,” the ministry said, noting he would also meet with Thorbjorn Jagland, the secretary general of the Council of Europe.

Bozkır will later proceed to Brussels, where he will meet with European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, as well as other European commissioners on the visa liberation process and the state of Turkey-EU relations.

While in Brussels, he will also come together with Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders.

“The EU should make sure that all its requirements are met before granting Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen area,” the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), said in a debate with the EU Commission on May 9.

Most MEPs criticized the commission for proposing a visa waiver for Turkish nationals even though the country had yet to fulfill all the criteria. Turkey should not be discriminated, but neither should it receive preferential treatment, they agreed.

On the evening of May 9, MEPs were also presented with the opinion of the parliament’s legal service on the legal aspects of the EU-Turkey deal on migration. Since the agreement was concluded on March18, MEPs have voiced concerns about its compatibility with EU and international law and have complained about the lack of an opportunity to subject it to democratic scrutiny.