Friday

13th Dec 2019

Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel

German chancellor Angela Merkel has cast doubt over whether Turkey could meet conditions on time to be granted visa free travel to the passport-free Schengen area.

"It is likely that by 1 July, certain things won't be put in place. In other words, the visa exemption [will not be granted], as some conditions will not have been fulfilled," Merkel said on Monday (23 May) after meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"I said clearly that the path towards the removal of the visa demand is based on 72 points which are not new and were presented in December 2013 by the European Union," she was quoted as saying by AFP.

An acceleration of visa liberalisation was one of the perks offered by the EU to Turkey in exhange for helping to halt the flow of migrants into the bloc.

The EU wants Turkey to revamp its anti-terror law that it says could be used to silence opposition and jouralists.

Erdogan has ruled out changes to the anti-terror law, one of the benchmarks for visa free travel to be granted. He also hinted earlier that the benchmarks could be met by October, rather than July.

The European Parliament has already said it would not start working on visa liberalisation until all the criteria are met, putting into doubt whether visa-free travel could be granted by July as foreseen under the EU-Turkey migration deal.

Merkel has also raised the issue of Turkey's decision to lift the immunity of most of Kurdish lawmakers, paving the way for prosecutions.

"Of course, the lifting of the immunity of one quarter of the deputies is a source of deep concern," Merkel told German journalists.

"I said this to the Turkish president and we discussed these questions very openly."

"Not all my questions have been answered, we will have to watch developments closely," Merkel added.

Merkel also voiced concern over the prosecution of journalists in Turkey. She said no visa deal could be signed if the terrorism legislation was not changed soon.

Erdogan made no comments after the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

For its part, the European Commission on Monday said that work was ongoing on fulfilling the outstanding criteria for visa liberalisation.

Last week, EU ministers agreed to make it easier to suspend visa-free travel to Schengen in case countries' nationals overstayed their 90-day permit or claimed asylum en masse, a move that still needs to be approved by the EU parliament.

Merkel in tight spot over anti-Erdogan comedian

German satirist could face three years in prison for insulting Turkish president, but only if Merkel gives the green light, amid concerns on Turkey's implementation of EU migrant deal.

Juncker warns Turkey over visas

Turkey will have to reform its anti-terrorism laws or the planned visa-free deal with the EU will fall apart.

Germany blocks Georgia's EU visa bid

Germany has blocked Georgia's EU visa waiver, citing a crime spree. Critics say the political decision could undermine EU credibility in eastern Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  2. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  3. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  4. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  5. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  6. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  7. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  8. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

Feature

Malmo, a segregated city - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  2. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  3. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  4. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  5. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  6. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  7. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  8. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us