: :inin Kyiv (EET)

EurActiv: EC set to propose lifting of visa requirement for Turkey


Despite deep public misgivings in some countries, the European Union will this week drive forward a plan to grant Turks visa-free travel to Europe as a reward for having reduced a flood of refugees and migrants into Europe to a trickle, according to EurActiv, an independent pan-European media network specialised in EU policies.
The European Commission is set to declare on Wednesday, May 4, that Turkey has broadly met the criteria for early visa liberalisation in a blaze of last-minute legislation and ask EU governments and the European Parliament to approve the decision by the end of June, several EU sources said, EurActiv wrote.
”We have not lowered our standards. Turkey has raised its game,” a senior EU official familiar with the negotiations said.
He was seeking to explain how the EU executive could certify compliance after telling lawmakers just two weeks ago that Ankara had met fewer than half the so-called benchmarks.
The political reality is that Brussels cannot say ”No” and risk a collapse of a much criticised March 18 EU-Turkey deal that was a turning point in Europe`s refugee crisis.
”It may lack political support to sustain a `Yes,` but the Turkish government won`t take `Later` for an answer,” EuroActiv wrote.
So in the time-honoured EU manner, the Commission will present a package aimed at offering something for everyone.
EU officials insist the union made no promise, and the offer applies only if Turkey meets 72 legal and technical conditions.
The Commission reported this month that Ukraine and Georgia had met those benchmarks, and will add Kosovo on Wednesday.
Turkey is the most sensitive because it has the biggest population, with 79 million, and due to its flawed record on civil and minority rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law.
Turkish officials warn against any anti-Muslim discrimination.
”This is a great opportunity for Europe to show it is a reliable partner and make it clear that they don`t apply double standards when it comes to predominantly Muslim European nations such as Turkey,” a government official in Ankara said.

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