EU-Turkey visa-free regime can be introduced in 2016
Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 4
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
A decision about the introduction of EU-Turkey visa-free regime is political, hence there is not guarantee of its happening in 2016, Amanda Paul, the analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC), said.
"Unfortunately giving visa liberalisation to Turkey will probably not be a popular issue with public opinion in Europe particularly at a time when the EU is dealing with the biggest migration crisis since the end of the second world war," she told Trend.
She said that Turkey not meeting certain criteria in order to obtain visa liberalisation could also be an issue.
The expert recalled that Turkey was actually promised a visa free regime decades ago when it signed its Association Agreement with the EU in 1963.
She said that it has been a thorn in relations between Turkey and EU for a long time.
"Turkey has seen many countries, including from Central and Eastern Europe, but more recently from the Western Balkans receive visa liberalisation while Turks have still had to line up outside embassy's," she said. "Hence it was crucial that the EU delivered on its commitment."
The expert recalled that the negotiations for a visa free regime began in 2013 but they have been speeded up in light of the Syrian refugee crisis and the key role Turkey has in helping control the flow of migrants to Europe.
"October 2016 was mentioned as possible date for visa liberalisation which is good news although it will be dependent on Turkey fulfilling all criteria," she said.
Earlier, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU may introduce a visa-free regime with Turkey in the autumn of 2016, assuming Ankara implements all the necessary requirements.
Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the first report will be published in March as part of the visa liberalization. Turkey will start implementing the readmission agreement in June 2016.
Currently, Turkey is hosting more than two million Syrian refugees on its territory. The Syrian refugee camps in the country accommodate about 300,000 people. The rest of them are spread across the provinces and cities of Turkey.
In Istanbul alone, there are currently 40,000 refugees from Syria. Ankara has so far spent $8 billion to upkeep the Syrian refugees.
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