Visa-free travel for Turkish citizens not possible in short-term, says EP’s Piri

Kati Piri: European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey.

Kati Piri, the rapporteur for Turkey at the European Parliament, has said she does not believe visa-free travel for Turkish citizens will be realized in the short term as Turkey will not be able to fulfill the remaining criteria by a July deadline, BBC Turkish has reported.

Piri’s remarks came one day after the European Commission released a decision recommending the European Parliament and the European Council add Turkey to the list of countries whose citizens are exempt from requiring a visa to enter the Schengen zone.

The commission took the decision by putting forth conditions that Turkey fulfill the remaining five benchmarks out of a total of 72 by July.

Speaking to a Dutch TV program, Piri said Turkey would not be able to fulfill the rest of the criteria by July, stating that Turkey’s current anti-terror laws were an obstacle to its democratization process.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans announced May 4 after the commission decision that Turkey needed to fulfill the remaining five benchmarks “urgently,” which included the anti-terror law.

The remaining five criteria are the completion of flaws in relation with a new data protection law, which already came into force in early April; operational cooperation with Europe’s police agency Europol; amendments to the anti-terror law; Turkey implementation of the Group of States against Corruption’s (GRECO) recommendations to combat corruption, as well as effecting judicial cooperation with all EU member states.

Talking to the press in Berlin on May 4 alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was hopeful that Turkey would soon realize the remaining benchmarks to obtain the right for its citizens to travel inside the EU without a visa.

The European Commission’s decision came within the scope of a Turkey-EU deal reached in mid-March in order to curb the influx of migrants into the bloc.

UA-57178893-1