BBC: ‘EU To Back Visa-Free Travel For Turkey’

The European Commission will give conditional approval for Turks to travel without visas to Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, sources have told the BBC.

The move is part of a deal in which Turkey is taking back migrants who have crossed over the Aegean Sea to Greece.

But Turkey must still meet EU criteria, and the deal must be approved by the European Parliament and member states.

The EU fears that without a visa deal, Turkey will not control migration.

The large influx of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe from Turkey, and from North Africa, has caused a political crisis among EU states.

A formal announcement from the European Commission is due on Wednesday.

Analysis by Katya Adler, BBC Europe Editor

If the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) does make the recommendation this Wednesday that Turks be granted visa-free travel in Europe’s Schengen area, as whispers from well-placed EU sources suggest, then it will be doing so holding its nose and its breath.

The freedom of speech; the right to a fair trial; and revising terrorism legislation to better protect minority rights – these are just some of the criteria demanded by the EU of countries before it lifts visa requirements, even for short-term travel.

It is hard to see how Turkey could be described as meeting these conditions. The government in Ankara increasingly cracks down on its critics in a manner more autocratic than democratic.

But these are desperate times for the EU. The European Commission and most EU governments are under huge public pressure to ease the migrant crisis.

My sources say the commission will therefore keep to the agreed script. But they insist this is no blank cheque. Turkey will get the green light over visas this week to keep it sweet. But it will also be informed of the outstanding criteria it still needs to meet.

Read more at the BBC


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