Tuesday, August 2, 2016

EU says Turkey must meet all benchmarks to get visa liberalization

The European Commission on Monday reiterated that Turkey must fulfill all benchmarks in order to secure visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) for Turkish citizens.

At a daily press briefing, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said the EU remains fully committed to ensure "continued and full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement," but if Turkey wants visa liberalization from the EU side, the benchmarks must be met.

"Turkey has committed to fulfill the benchmarks in order to enable the EU to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens," she stressed.

The spokeswoman said that the final timing for any visa free travel will depend on both when Turkey will complete work on remaining benchmarks, and when the EU member states ultimately take a decision. "On fulfilling the remaining benchmarks of the visa liberalization roadmap, the Commission continues to provide support and expertise to the Turkish authorities to accelerate the reforms needed to fulfill the remaining requirements," she added.

The Commission will update the state of play in the program report on the EU-Turkey deal in September, according to the spokeswoman.

The EU-Turkey deal to curb refugee influx into Europe came into force in March. Under the agreement, Turkey agreed to take back all undocumented migrants, while the EU has Syrian refugees resettled from Turkish camps on a one-for-one basis.

As part of the deal, Brussels promised to introduce visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. According to the EU, Turkey still has to meet five benchmarks to secure visa free travel, including reforming the country's anti-terrorism legislation.

In an interview with German media published during the weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister said that Ankara would back out of the agreement if the EU fails to deliver the promise of visa liberalization.
  [Xinhua -globaltimes.cn]


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