Turkey claims it has met EU conditions for visa-free travel in Europe

Turkey claims it has met EU conditions for visa-free travel in Europe
Turkey has said its citizens should be allowed to move without hindrance around Europe, after meeting EU criteria for visa-free travel.
2 min read
07 February, 2018
An application for a Schengen visa [Getty]

Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said Wednesday that Ankara has fulfilled all 72 requirements set by the European body to secure its citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, reported AP.

Turkish officials added that Ankara submitted all related documents to EU officials as part of the visa liberalisation process.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it would give "a new momentum to Turkish-EU relations".

Securing visa-free travel was a key part of a controversial 2016 EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

The terms require Ankara to readmit all irregular asylum seekers who reach the Greek islands from Turkey, in exchange for billions in aid.

According to the UN, Turkey currently hosts 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees.

The European Commission previously demanded that Ankara change its definition of what constitutes a "terrorism offence" to ensure media or academics are not targeted.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey has ranked number one in the world - for the second time in a row - for the number of journalists behind bars.

A failed military coup in 2015 - along with multiple security threats from the Islamic State group and Kurdish militias - had led Erdogan to until recently flatly reject calls to rewrite his country's anti-terrorism laws.

"Certain arrangements were made in a way that will not pave the way for the weakening of Turkey's struggle against terrorism and these were submitted to the EU," Kalin said.

Ankara has previously threatened to abandon the 2016 refugee deal if visa-free access is not granted.

AP reported that it could not immediately reach the European Commission, which verifies compliance, for comment.