BELGRADE – The European Commission will recommend a conditional visa-free regime introduction between Turkey and the European Union on Wednesday, media reports said Tuesday, citing EU sources.
The European Commission will grant a conditional approval of a visa-free regime with Turkey demanding that it improves its record on the freedom of speech, fair judicial practice and minority rights protection, the BBC reported.
In mid-March, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory in exchange for Syrian refugees accommodated in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis. In return, the 28-member bloc pledged to accelerate the Turkish EU accession bid and introduce a visa-free regime between Turkey and Europe.
The commission remains dedicated to the agreement despite unease with Turkey’s failure to meet EU norms on a number of issues due to pressure to deal with the migrant crisis. There is motivation on both sides, and Turkey has been making progress toward meeting EU requirements, a source told the broadcaster.
A European Commission report on the matter will be prepared within a month, sources said, while the European Parliament due to vote on visa liberalization in June. European lawmakers are concerned about Turkey taking advantage of its position in dealing with the migrant crisis and worry about the European Union starting to ignore human rights issues in order to address the flow of refugees, the BBC said.
The EU states are currently struggling to deal with a refugee influx, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Aegean Sea is one of the main transit routes for refugees heading for Greece via Turkish territory.
Turkey has recently faced growing criticism for its curtailment of media freedom, restricting rights to free assembly and violence against its Kurdish population in the country’s southeast.