Turkish-EU visa-free travel criteria to be met by Monday

Turkey's minister for EU affairs says the criteria for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens throughout the Schengen Zone will be met by Monday.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A woman adjusts the Turkish flag next to the European Union flag before the arrival of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (unseen) at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, January 15, 2015.

Turkey will fulfill all European Union criteria by Monday for Turkish citizens to be able to travel freely throughout Europe's 26-nation Schengen Zone, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said on Thursday.

During a live interview with Turkish channel NTV, Bozkir said Turkey expects an EU Commission including visa liberation legislation will be approved next week.

He also said the requirements for the visa-liberalisation would have been completed on Thursday, but opposition lawmakers had prevented this in the parliament.

"If the security surveillance law had been completed last night, as of today Turkey would have done what is required," said Bozkir.

"The 10 or so remaining articles ... will God willing be passed on Monday. But we can effectively say it's done. After that the 72 expectations are met from our perspective."

The EU Commission is expected to propose lifting visas for Turkish citizens on May 4.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels that the legislation will be supported if Turkey fulfills all 72 of the criteria listed in an EU framework.

"If it meets all the criteria, it will receive the recommendations of the European Commission for visa-free travel," she said.

However, some EU member states strongly oppose the deal with Turkey.

Ankara, on the other hand, has already announced it will cancel a readmission agreement signed in 2013, if the European Union doesn’t keep its promises for visa-free travel.

The deal, which came into effect on March 20, states that Turkey will accept back refugees who cross into Greece illegally, while in return the EU will liberalise visa rules for Turkish citizens and move forward on Turkey's membership application to the bloc.

The deal also states the EU will provide Turkey financial aid to help the country care for the nearly 3 million refugees it hosts.

Twenty out of 26 European countries are part of the Schengen Zone, which allows passport-free travel between these states.

TRTWorld and agencies