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30 Nov 2018

Turkey, EU Continue Visa Liberalization Dialogue After Long Break

Turkey, EU Continue Visa Liberalization Dialogue After Long Break After a long break from visa-liberalization talks, the EU and Turkey have finally met to discuss the topic among others.

During a visit in Ankara, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn discussed with Turkish officials a variety of topics, including Turkish-EU relations, Ankara’s accession process, migration and visa liberalization.

According to a press release of the European Commission, both sides reconfirmed their intention to continue the dialogue on visa liberalization, and to implement all pending benchmarks.

“In the framework of the Visa Liberalization Roadmap benchmarks, Turkey has started to issue second-generation passports as of 2nd April and the negotiations for an operational cooperation agreement between the European Union and Turkey on exchange of personal data between Europol and the Turkish authorities competent for fighting serious crime and terrorism will start on 30 November,” the release reads.

The release further asserts that Turkey’s accession process can provide an important framework for fully realizing the potential of the EU-Turkey relationship as well as for the economic, social and political reforms in Turkey.

Avramopoulos Office Gainsays Turkish Media: Commissioner Did Not Say “Turkey Closer to Visa Liberalization”

While the Turkish media headlines suggested that on Wednesday the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said that Turkey was very close to visa liberalization, the office of Commissioner Avramopoulos denied that the latter said such thing.

“ … The Commissioner indeed confirmed that there are still 7 outstanding benchmarks and that the Turkish side is committed to progress quickly, and that the EU and Turkey remain strategic partners,” the commissioner’s office told to online newspaper Turkish Minute in an email.

“The Commissioner did not say whether and how close the Turkish authorities are to fulfilling the 7 outstanding benchmarks,” the office said in an email.

Turkish Official: Turkey Could Make Use of “Kosovo Model”

One of the obstacles in Turkey’s road to reaching visa liberalization is also the issue of Cyprus. An earlier EU report suggested that Turkey would not be able to get visa liberalization, even if it has met all the other benchmarks, unless it recognizes the Republic of Cyprus as an independent country.

Now the country is pondering a way how to get visa liberalization, without having to recognize Cyprus, the largest source of tension between Greece and Turkey since 1974.

According an anonymous Turkish official, Turkey is planning to propose to the EU to use the “Kosovo model”, to solve the issue.

Kosovo has been in a continuous attempt to get visa liberalization since 2012 when the process was launched. Now the visa liberalization process is in its final stages for Kosovo, despite that five EU members do not recognize Kosovo. Recently the EU has assigned a high representative to handle the necessary dialogue between Kosovo and these five EU member states.

“If there is a will, there is always a way. That way can be formulated as Kosovo model,” this official is quoted to have said.

The European Union launched visa liberalization process with Turkey in December 2013. The dialogue was based on a roadmap containing 72 requirements. Since then, the EU commission adopted three reports on Turkey’s progress on fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalization roadmap.

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