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07 Feb 2018

Turkey says it has met the criteria for visa free travel to EU

New EU chapter to open with reforms on Turkey’s agendaFew of the Turkish officials have declared this week that Turkey has fulfilled the 72 requirements for visa liberalization, including President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalın. During a press conference in Ankara, on February 7, Kalın announced that Turkey has completed all of the European Union’s 72 criteria for granting visa free travel to the bloc and has handed over the relevant documents.

The announcement comes just a few hours after the Turkish EU Affairs Minister, Ömer Çelik, warned that Ankara has completed the preparatory works for visa liberalization with the European Union, and would be submitting the finalized documents on Thursday the farthest.

During a press conference in Ankara, Çelik said that Turkey has fulfilled all the obligations for visa liberalization, by  meeting each of the 72 requirements for the deal.

On the other hand, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also claimed during this week that Turkey has met all benchmarks in order to launch the visa liberalization process, despite that Brussels claims Ankara has only met 65 requirements out of 72.

Days before, on February 3, Turkey’s ambassador to the EU, Faruk Kaymakçı, said during a press conference in Brussels, that the demands for reforms of Turkey’s anti-terror laws could be sorted within a year with relative ease. As stated by him, visa liberalization is a low hanging fruit, and if Ukraine and Georgia can do that then Turkey can also.

The move to lift the visa regime for Turkish citizens started  in early 2016 as part of a broader migrant swap agreement with Ankara that aimed to prevent the flows of Syrian refugees into Greece.

The initial plan aimed to lift the visa regime by the end of the same year, but a failed military putsch in July hindered the process. The ensuing state-orchestrated purge resulted in tens of thousands of people incarcerated and dismissed from their posts.

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