There are six remaining criteria Turkey needs to fulfill for visa liberalization, the head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut said Monday.
Speaking to BBC Turkish, Meyer-Landrut said: “There are six criteria remaining regarding the visa liberalization roadmap. When we look at all these, there are also very important criteria: For example, there are criteria related to the definition of terrorism, there are criteria related to the protection of personal data.”
He noted that EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson also stated that the EU was ready to continue discussions on this issue while she was visiting the country.
“However, before making such an offer to the member states, Turkey needs to confirm that it fulfills these criteria,” he said.
Visa liberalization was designed so Turkish citizens with biometric passports would be able to enter Europe’s “Schengen area” for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period without requiring a visa.
In March 2016, Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement to reduce the number of migrants taking the dangerous Aegean Sea route to Europe and to find a solution for the influx of migrants heading to EU countries.
According to the deal, Turkey was promised a total of 6 billion euros ($7.30 billion) in financial aid. It was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and to be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian migrants. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also part of the agreement. In addition, the EU-Turkey Customs Union was to be updated.
In exchange for these promises, Turkey took responsibility for discouraging migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of Syrian migrants living in Turkey.
Despite significant developments controlling migration traffic, Turkey has frequently noted that the EU has not fully delivered on its commitments stated in the deal and criticized the international community for its indifference to the migrant crisis.
Also touching upon the issue of updating the customs union, Meyer-Landrut said they want discussions to resume and for the council to continue its work in this regard.
“There are trade barriers and troublesome issues in trade areas that have come to the fore especially in recent years. First, we have to deal with them. In fact, these seem to be issues that can be resolved within the framework of the current Customs Union,” he said.
“Therefore, we think that we will be able to make progress on these trade barriers first, and then come to the stage of negotiating a new agreement. As the EU, some visits were made to Brussels in order to overcome these. The summit convened in July, committee meetings were held at the technical level. We hope that progress can be made in these areas in the coming days. Thus, the renewal and updating of the Customs Union may come up again,” he added.
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