Turkey on course for visa-free travel in EU – media

The European Commission on Wednesday is expected to recommend a radical loosening of travel conditions for Turkey despite Ankara not meeting a series of key targets, according to The Telegraph.
The giveaway is part of a EUR 6 billion aid-for-deportations migration deal struck with Turkey, which has resulted in a steep fall in the number of refugees attempting to cross into Europe, The Telegraph reported.
Turkey has warned that if it is not given the visa waiver – which will grant automatic access to the Schengen zone for tourists for up to 90 days – then it will ”terminate” the migration deal.
Meanwhile, the EU sources admit that Turkey has only met around 60 of the 72 ”benchmarks” it has set to unlock the visa-free travel rights.
It includes the universal introduction of tamper-proof biometric passports, without which Turks will not be able to use the scheme.
Reforms to terrorism laws, data protection measures and an anti-corruption drive also have not been delivered, the Financial Times reported.
European officials are now scrambling to sign off as many clauses as possible before the Wednesday deadline to make the recommendation. It was reported that Turkey chartered a private jet to lodge signed paperwork with the Strasbourg Council of Europe.
The policy does not grant any extra travel rights to the UK, which lies outside of the Schengen zone.
Mina Andreeva, a commission spokeswoman, refused to comment on individual measures but said the Turkish have made ”a lot of efforts over the past weeks and days to meet the criteria.”
Kosovo is also expected to be granted visa-free travel soon. Combined with recent recipients Georgia and Ukraine, it amounts to a significant relaxation of travel rules for 127 million people at a time when the EU is grappling to secure its external border against illegal migrants and the risk of terrorist infiltration. 

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