18th Mar 2018

Erdogan wants visa-free travel by October

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday (10 May) said he wanted the EU to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel by October at the latest.

"The promise that was made was for the month of October this year," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I hope they will keep the promise that they made and close this issue by October at the latest," he added.

The deal agreed in March by EU leaders and Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that visa liberalisation should be granted by the end of June at the latest, if Turkey fulfilled all the required 72 benchmarks.

Last week the EU Commission proposed lifting the visa requirements, even though Turkey fell short on five criteria.

Erdogan's comments came as it emerged that the European Parliament, which will also have to agree to grant visa free travel, would not begin discussing the issue until all the 72 required benchmarks are met by Turkey.

The EP's last plenary session will be in the first week of July before the summer break, making it almost impossible to meet the summer deadline.

In a sign that the Turkish president might have resigned himself to that political reality, he recalled an earlier pledge from EU leaders.

In his speech Erdogan was referring to an earlier EU-Turkey statement from November last year, that stated that if all requirements are met, the visa free travel should be granted by October 2016.

In any case, the 72 benchmarks would still need to be met by Turkey for the visa liberalisation to happen.

One of the crucial outstanding criteria is narrowing the definition of terrorism and terrorist acts in Turkish law, so that it could not be used to prosecute journalists, academics or opposition figures.

Erdogan last week warned he would not change the anti-terror law for the sake of visa-free travel. on Tuesday he sounded equally defiant on that point.

The president, in a reference to tents set up by Kurdish activists near the EU Council building in Brussels in March, asked why "terrorists" were allowed to pitch camp outside the building.

"First give an answer to that" before Turkey examines its anti-terror laws, he said.

The visa liberalisation is a key component of the EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming the flow of migrants into Europe. The number of arrivals have sharply dropped since the deal kicked in late March.

But Erdogan has threatened before that the deal could unravel if Turkish citizens are not granted visa free access to the Schengen zone.

Concerns over Turkey's commitment to the agreement grew after Davutoglu, an architect of the deal, said last week he would resign as prime minister.

EP stops work on Turkey visa waiver

The EU parliament has stopped all work on the commission's plan to lift visas for Turkish nationals. The move could spell the end of the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

EU says Turkey almost ready for visa-free access

First visa-free Turkish visitors to EU possible on 1 July if Turkey meets five more criteria on time. Most Turkish people to face long wait for EU-compliant biometric passports.

Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Niger has temporarily stopped all evacuations from Libya detention centres under an EU funded programme because so few are being resettled to Europe. Many of those that have been evacuated are pregnant, with some asking for HIV testing.

EU seeks another €3bn Turkey migrant deal

Money should flow despite concerns about the Turkish regime, the Commission said. EU should "pressure" African states to take back unwanted migrants, it added.

EU billions had 'limited' effect in Turkey, audit finds

The EU got "limited" effect for the €9bn it spent trying to modernise Turkey in recent years, auditors have said. Turkey has been "backsliding" on reforms since 2013 due to "lack of political will", the European Court of Auditors found.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere