Global Independent Analytics

EU group proposes visa-free travel for Turks in Europe

To go into effect, it must be approved by the European Council -- representatives of the 28 EU member countries -- and the European Parliament

Don Melvin for CNN reports: A key EU body proposed Wednesday that Turks be allowed to travel to countries in the European Union without visas, a move that appeared to be part of a deal to secure Turkey's help in stemming the mass movement of migrants through Turkey and on into Europe. The proposal was made by the European Commission, the administrative arm of the EU.

Officials report that the plan became possible because after hard work Turkey has finally fulfilled a number of certain EU requirements that are crucial for the Union. Turkey has been trying to get admitted to the Union since 1987 when it was still called the European Economic Community.

"Turkey has made impressive progress, particularly in recent weeks, on meeting the benchmarks of its visa liberalization roadmap," Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the Commission was quoted as saying. "There is still work to be done as a matter of urgency, but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks. This is why we are putting a proposal on the table which opens the way for the European Parliament and the member states to decide to lift visa requirements, once the benchmarks have been met."

“European leaders negotiated a deal in March under which people who cross into Greece illegally are being sent back to Turkey.

For every Syrian sent back to Turkey under the plan, a vetted Syrian refugee will go from Turkey to Europe to be resettled, although the maximum number is capped at 72,000 people. In return, the EU will give Turkey billions in funding to help it provide for the migrants within its borders, and grant various political concessions.

A report by Amnesty International condemned the EU agreement and accused Turkey of forcibly sending people back to Syria, constituting a violation of international law -- a charge Turkey denies,” concludes Melvin.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

Turkey met 67 criteria out of 72. The five missing criteria are completing a new data protection law, cooperating closely with Europe’s police agency Europol, amending the Anti-Terror Law and cooperating judicially with EU member states, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Only Turkish citizens with biometric passports that will include fingerprints, to be handed in June, will be able to travel to EU visa-free. But when one looks beyond the formalities, a worrying picture emerges. The Turkish Parliament just approved a proposal to strip of immunity members of parliament who vocally ‘support terrorism’, e.g. the Kurdistan Worker’s Party - PKK, that would result in immunity being removed from deputies of the pro-Kurdish Party Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The proposal may not pass due to objections of deputies from other members (367 votes out of 550 will be needed), but the wider trend is the same: various journalists have been arrested on a regular basis, it is forbidden to mock the president, and Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey have been brutally bombed by the Turkish army with many atrocities taking place. Civilians have been targeted intentionally. That EU is rewarding Turkey for this behavior reveals that ‘human rights’ is an empty slogan. EU would never consider Israel as a member as long as it occupies Palestine but with Turkey, different standards apply. Since Erdogan supports ISIS and is pursuing an islamization of Turkey, EU member states will soon get to taste a bit of his tea. 

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