Visa deal with Turkey
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Thursday 21 June 2012
Turkey was right to insist. In the end, the 27 EU countries agreed, on 21 June, to open talks on lifting the visa requirement imposed on Turkish citizens who want to travel in the EU. The agreement was reached in return for Turkey signing a 2011 agreement on the readmission of clandestine migrants who had crossed its territory to reach the EU.
The European Commission will lead the negotiations on the visas – as is the case for any other dialogue of this type. But in this instance, it really was a case of ‘now or never’ for the 27 member states to reach an agreement. Indeed, as the Turks currently do not have diplomatic relations with the Greek part of Cyprus – which will take over the Presidency of the EU on 1 July – the agreement could well have been postponed. Nicosia has been extremely reluctant to progress on the visa issue, but it has managed to get its European partners to tie the closing of the dialogue to the condition that Turkey in no way discriminates against Cyprus – neither in the readmission agreement, nor in the justice and home affairs dossiers in general.
Turkey is set to initial the agreement on readmission in the days to come and will sign it as soon as the Commission has presented it with a road map. According to various sources, the readmission agreement and the abolition of the visa regime could be concluded in 2015.