Turkish president welcomes EU visa deal

Turkish president welcomes EU visa deal

GAZİANTEP - Anadolu Agency
Turkish president welcomes EU visa deal

The visa liberalisation should come soon, says President Gül. AA photo

Turkish President Abdullah Gül welcomed the recent visa deal with the European Union, saying the current visa requirements for Turkey were “unacceptable.”

“The fact that the EU was holding onto a very strict visa application while signing visa freedom deals with countries from Russia to the Balkans, countries that are not even candidates, was unacceptable,” Gül said during a visit to the governor’s office in Gaziantep, adding that the deal was a result of “significant effort.”

“I hope that in a short amount of time, maybe a couple of years, Turkish citizens can travel through Europe without visas. I see [the deal] as an important step,” Gül said.

Turkey and the European Union agreed to sign the much-anticipated Readmission Agreement on Dec. 16 in Ankara in return for launching the visa liberalization talks for Turkish citizens, after nearly two years of arduous negotiations.

The decision for the signing of the Readmission Agreement was announced in Brussels on Dec. 4 after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held meetings with Cecilia Malstöm and Stefan Füle, European commissioners for domestic affairs and enlargement, respectively.

If the process goes smoothly after the deal is signed, Turkish citizens will be able to enter Europe without a visa in three years’ time. Turkey had been harshly criticizing the EU for not allowing visa-free travel rights to Turkish citizens.

Apart from its direct effects on Turkish citizens’ visa-free travel to EU countries, the deal is also considered to have a positive influence on Turkey’s accession process. Additionally, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has not attended any EU meetings for three years, is expected to visit Brussels in January, three years after his last visit to the EU capital.