EU insists Turkey must fulfill benchmarks to benefit from visa-free travel

BRUSSELS, Aug 1 (KUNA) — The European Commission (EC) stressed here Monday that Turkey has to fulfill the conditions required to benefit from visa-free travel to Europe.
“The European Commission is, and remains fully committed to ensure full implementation ” of the EU-Turkish deal on migration agreed last March and “we expect the same from our Turkish partners, ” Mina Andreeva, Deputy Chief Spokesperson of the European Union (EU)’s executive body told a news conference.
On fulfilling the remaining conditions for the visa liberalization, the Commission continues to provide support and expertise to the Turkish authorities to accelerate the reforms needed. she noted. The final timing for any visa free travel will depend on both, when Turkey will complete its work on the remaining benchmarks and when the European Parliament and the EU member states take their decision, clarified the spokesperson.
Turkey has to fulfill 72 benchmarks to get the EU visa liberalization for its citizens. Five benchmarks remain to be fulfilled by Turkey.
The EU reaction came after Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened to cancel a migrant deal with the EU should Brussels fail to lift short-term visa restrictions on Turks.
“If visa liberalization does not follow, we will be forced to back away from the deal on taking back refugees and the agreement of 18 March,” he told Germany’s daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung over the weekend.
On his part, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told Austrian daily Kurier on Friday that the “risk is great” the agreement with Turkey would fail.
“The success of the pact so far is fragile. President Erdogan has several times hinted he wants to terminate the agreement,” he said.
The EU also wants Ankara to change its an anti-terrorism law. Brussels argues that the law’s definition of terrorism is too broad and allows authorities to target journalists and opposition. Andreeva told the news conference that it has “never been the intention of the EU to reduce Turkey’s capacity to fight terrorism effectively. It is only meant to align the Turkey’s legislation with the EU legislation,” she added. (end) nk.msa