Thursday

30th Nov 2023

Turkey hopes for EU visa breakthrough this week

  • Yenel: 'It will be a game changer' (Photo: svenwerk)

Turkey is aiming to tell its 75 million citizens on Thursday (21 June) they can visit the EU without visas in a couple of years' time.

The breakthrough concerns a technical step designed to end a toxic stalemate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU had in the past said Turkey must first sign a readmission agreement on illegal migrants, while Turkey had said the EU should make the first move.

But on Wednesday, EU ambassadors are expected to task the European Commission with drafting an Action Plan for Turkish reforms on passport and border standards.

The sequence of events is to see EU employment ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday rubber stamp the move. Turkey will the same day initial the readmission pact.

When the commission puts forward the Action Plan, Turkey will sign the readmission deal. When the reforms are implemented (in 2014 or 2015), the visa regime will be lifted.

An EU Council source said Austria, Cyprus and France still have "reservations," but there is sufficient "pressure" for them to back down.

"It's a little courageous to say that we are absolutely sure. But we are hopeful," Preben Aamann, the Danish EU presidency spokesman, told this website.

"It will be a game changer. We hope to show that the EU is still relevant for Turkey," Selim Yenel, Turkey's EU ambassador, told EUobserver.

He noted that visa queues at EU consulates and two years of stalled accession talks have "poisoned" relations.

"Nobody cares any more what the EU says ... There are very few people who think that accession will ever happen and people are saying that if they don't want us, why do we actually need them?" he said.

With Cyprus to hold the EU chairmanship from July to December there is no prospect of unfreezing accession talks for now.

But Yenel hopes to open three new chapters - on economic policy, institutions and "any other business" - under the Irish EU presidency in 2013.

He said former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy was blocking the chapters for unspecified "personal reasons" and in order to curry favour with right-wing voters.

But with elections out of the way, French President Francois Hollande's people have given "signals" that the blockage will be lifted.

In terms of bilateral relations with its EU neighbours, Turkey is wary of the new Greek leader, Antonis Samaras.

"He was a difficult person in the past. We hope he will not be so when he is Prime Minister, but when he was foreign minister, he had problems with Macedonia and with us," Yenel said.

He had nothing nice to say about Cyprus.

Noting that Nicosia is poised to borrow even more money from Moscow to prop up its banks, he said its relationship with Russia is bad for EU values.

"They've been very cozy with the Russians, a lot of the illegal gains [of Russian businessmen] have been whitewashed on the island," he said.

"We have seen some ships that have gone to Cyprus and then to Syria without being checked. We're surprised how lenient the EU has been on this. It's unbelievable," he added, referring to Russian arms shipments to Syria which refuelled in Cyprus despite EU sanctions.

Correction: this story was altered on 19 July 2012. The original said the Turkish population is 80 million people

Turkey and China host biggest EU outposts

Staff numbers at foreign delegations highlight EU interest in Turkey and China, as well as member states' ongoing reliance on bilateral diplomacy.

Free press on trial in EU aspirant Turkey

The trial of 11 journalists - including Turkey's "last investigative reporter" - begins on Tuesday in a country which says it wants to join the EU.

Opinion

The EU and Turkey: Stronger together

As the EU faces economic challenges and continuing instability in the Middle East, our relationship with Turkey matters more than ever.

Opinion

'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU

Since last week, Mark Zuckerberg's Meta corporation is forcing its European users to either accept their intrusive privacy practices — or pay €156 per year to access Facebook and Instagram without tracking advertising.

Column

How centre-right conservatives capitulate to the far-right

Many conservatives in Europe seem to have forgotten the lesson of 1930s Germany. They sacrifice their principles on the altar of the polls and all-too-often try to overtake rightwing radicals on their own pet subjects like security or migration.

Latest News

  1. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  2. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?
  3. 'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU
  4. EU offers Turkey upgrade, as Sweden nears Nato entry
  5. Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog
  6. Finland's closure of Russia border likely violates asylum law
  7. The EU's 'no added sugars' fruit-juice label sleight-of-hand
  8. EU belittles Russia's Lavrov on way to Skopje talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us