Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us