Friday, 30 September 2011

EU Prepares Road Map to Remove Visa for Turks

The European Union for the first time is planning to draw a road map to completely remove visa requirements for Turkish citizens, while in the meantime the union will take steps to ease visa procedures, according to Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commission representative for interior affairs.

The process will start in the fall and will have five steps starting with granting longer visas, then multi-entry visas, then shortening the processing time, then reducing the paperwork required, and then extending again or even eliminating visas for certain sectors.

Turkey’s European Union Minister Egemen Bağış on Wednesday participated in a session of the European Parliament discussing the union’s visa regime for Turkish nationals. The EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting on Wednesday was the first high-level meeting between Turkey and the EU on what Ankara hopes will lead to further negotiations to remove visa requirements for Turks visiting EU member countries.

“We are about to embark on a journey. But it will take time. And to begin with, we will ease visa procedures,” said Malmstrom, adding that the EU member countries would issue longer-stay, multi-entry visas with shorter issuance periods and less paper work, as well as indefinite visas for certain sectors.

“We have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. All we ask for is an end to the discrimination and equal treatment with other candidate countries,” Bağış said.

Bağış denied allegations that a wave of migration from Turkey to the EU would follow visa exemption, saying that a reverse migration was already underway.

“As a matter of fact, nearly 30,000 Turks returned home within the past few years,” he said. Responding to a question by a parliamentary lawmaker about Turkey’s decision to freeze relations with the EU term presidency when the Greek Cypriot administration assumes the helm if a settlement on the Cyprus issue has not been found, Bağış said membership negotiations could wait for six months without opening another chapter.

“It isn’t the end of the world if we don’t open a new chapter in accession talks for another six months,” Bağış said.
Source: Hurriyet

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