European Commission proposes to lift visas for Turks

European Commission recommends bringing visa-free travel through Schengen Zone for Turkish citizens a day after Turkey's cabinet approves of waiving visas for EU citizens.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

The Turkish national flag and the EU flag are pictured ahead of a summit on the refugee crisis, Brussels, Belgium, November 29, 2015.

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to lift the EU’s visa requirements for Turkish citizens.

"The European Commission is today proposing to the Council of European Union and European Parliament to lift the visa requirements for the citizens of Turkey," the Commission statement said.

Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir hailed the commission’s decision.

“This is basically the end of miraculous work. At the end of a couple of months, such intense legislations are made and put into the work,” said Bozkir.

The draft sent by the EU Commission will be voted in the European Parliament by the end of June, after it is discussed at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

If the parliament approves the draft, it will be sent to the Council of the European Union, which is the essential EU decision-maker.

Turkey's cabinet approved on Tuesday for the waiving of visas for EU citizens once Europe relaxes its own visa requirements for Turks, according to a decision published in Turkey's Official Gazette.

After Turkey secures the visa waiver, its citizens will be able to travel freely throughout Europe's 26-nation Schengen Zone by the end of June.

The commission’s recommendation came a day after the Turkish Parliament approved a law that aims to regulate, through a monitoring commission, how law enforcement officers are disciplined or punished for alleged crimes.

Late on Monday, the Turkish cabinet approved waiving visas for visitors from EU member states, once the EU lifts its visa requirements for Turkish citizens.

Under a deal struck on March 18, the European Union promised to provide Turkey with visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, more financial aid and acceleration of EU membership talks.

In exchange, Turkey pledged to take back refugees who crossed into Europe illegally from its soil as of March 20. According to the deal, which is essentially aimed at stemming the refugee flow into Europe, for each refugee returned, the EU pledged to accept one already settled in Turkey.

The deal seems to have helped discourage refugees who were planning to reach Europe illegally via Turkey, as the latest figures obtained from Turkish Coast Guard revealed that no casualties occurred in Turkish waters in April 2016.

TRTWorld and agencies