Has Ankara achieved visa-free regime from Brussels?

Has Ankara achieved visa-free regime from Brussels?

The EU may introduce a visa-free regime with Turkey in autumn 2016, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. "We attach great importance to the process of visa liberalization. If all conditions are met, I think that visa liberalization could take effect in the autumn of 2016. However, I note that we are not softening the fundamental criteria," he said.

Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu, in his turn, said that in June 2016 Ankara will start the implementation of a readmission agreement with the EU. "The process of visa liberalization will be started immediately after it,"  Davutoglu said. "We have confirmed that membership of the EU is a strategic objective of our government," he concluded.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday that all the rules relating to the EU enlargement policy shall remain in force. "I insist that we are not re-writing the EU enlargement policy. The negotiating framework and the relevant conclusions continue to apply, including its merit-based nature and the respect for European values, also on human rights," he said.

Tusk stressed that migration was the primary reason why they all met. According to him, the EU did not expect anyone to guard their borders for them, but the EU expects a major step towards changing the rules of the game when it comes to stemming the migration flow that is coming to the EU via Turkey.

"Our agreement sets out a clear plan for the timely re-establishment of order at our shared frontier. We will also step up our assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey through a new Refugee Facility of 3 billion euros," the head of the European Council said, adding that Turkey remains a key strategic partner for Europe, but also a candidate country of the EU. 

A senior research officer of the Center for European Studies (University) at the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Olenchenko, stressed in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza "the allocation of money for the maintenance of Turkey's refugee camps." "The sum of 3 billion euros was approved. But this will not be a one-off payment. 500 million euros will be transferred to Turkey by the end of the year," he said

"Davutoglu said at a press conference that Turkey will solve the problem of refugees, depending on the situation in Syria and the fight against IS," the expert added.

Olenchenko recalled that "the EU countries are strongly interested that the flow of refugees will not come to Europe." "So there were a lot of hints that the process of considering Turkey's membership may be accelerated. It also assumes the issue of a visa-free regime. There are a number of countries who are opposed to such a decision. First of all, these are Greece and Cyprus. The Turkish Prime Minister, of course, was encouraged by such statements, but he stressed before the actual summit in Ankara that Turkey expects some reciprocal steps to resolve the issue of its membership in the European Union. I think the French President Hollande's words that he doesn't see any reason to slow down or speed up the consideration of Turkey's membership in the EU are the most capacious," he concluded.

The migration policy consists of three points. "The first point is the funding and organizational issues to curb migration to the European Union from other countries. The second point is the strengthening of the external borders of the European Union. And the third point is the strengthening of control over migrants when travelling between the EU countries," the expert listed.

"Turkey's participation relates to the first two points and partially the issue of coordination of control at the external border with the EU. Therefore, the Turkish leadership will try to get to the maximum benefits. A specific benefit is the 3 billion euros. And Turkey must somehow decide how it will build relations with the refugees," Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.

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