World Europe 03 May 2016 EU to grant Turkey v ...

EU to grant Turkey visa-free travel under migrant deal

AFP
Published May 3, 2016, 9:19 pm IST
Updated May 3, 2016, 9:19 pm IST
Ankara has demanded visa-free travel in exchange for taking back migrants who land in Greece.
Turkey has to meet a list of 72 criteria -- ranging from biometric passports to respect for human rights -- that were set when Brussels and Ankara first talked about 90-day visa-free travel to the Schengen area.
 Turkey has to meet a list of 72 criteria -- ranging from biometric passports to respect for human rights -- that were set when Brussels and Ankara first talked about 90-day visa-free travel to the Schengen area.

Brussels: The EU will on Tuesday grant conditional approval for Turks to gain visa-free access to the Schengen zone, meeting one of Ankara's key demands to keep a migrant deal alive.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, will say Turkey must still implement further measures in order to access the passportless Schengen area without visas by June, the sources said on Tuesday.

 

Ankara has demanded visa-free travel in exchange for taking back migrants who land in Greece under a controversial deal signed in March seeking to curb the influx as Europe grapples with its biggest migrant crisis since World War II.

EU member states and the European Parliament must still approve the Turkey visa plan after it clears the Commission, which is by no means a foregone conclusion as many countries have concerns over human rights in Turkey.

"The Commission will put forward a plan to include Turkey in the list of countries exempted from visas," a European source said, adding that "only 64 out of the 72 criteria are fulfilled" and that the offer, therefore, remains conditional.

 

Turkey has to meet a list of 72 criteria -- ranging from biometric passports to respect for human rights -- that were set when Brussels and Ankara first talked about 90-day visa-free travel to the Schengen area.

Turkey has pressed the EU to respect its promises over what Ankara regards as its big win from the deal which was signed at a summit on March 18.

But Germany and France have proposed an emergency brake -- or "snap back mechanism" -- under which it could halt visa-free travel if large numbers of Turks stay in the EU illegally or if there are a large number of asylum applications by Turks.

 

The EU struck the deal with Turkey to send back all "irregular" migrants who arrive in Greece after March 20 and are turned down for asylum, in a bid to halt the mass migration which has created enormous strain in Europe.

In exchange, the EU will resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey for every Syrian that Turkey takes back from the Greek islands, the aim being to discourage people from crossing to Greece in the first place.

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