Friday

19th Oct 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.

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.

Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

EU leaders at the summit in Brussels want partnerships with north African states that go beyond migration. But internal EU reforms on asylum, especially sharing of migrants and refugees between member states, remain stuck.

Austria EU presidency seeks 'mandatory solidarity' on Dublin

EU interior ministers are meeting in Luxembourg this Friday to discuss migration. The Austrian EU presidency is hoping to reach a consensus on Dublin reforms and a concept of 'mandatory solidarity' after briefing 27 EU states bilaterally over the summer.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  2. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  3. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  4. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  5. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  6. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  7. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  8. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us