Govt vows bill on border management by late this year
The government yesterday expressed determination to complete preparations for an integrated border management system, in line with European Union requirements and best practice, and to send a bill on the borders to Parliament by year's-end. The Reform Monitoring Group (RIG) – considered the engine of the reforms for Turkey's EU process, made up of the justice minister, foreign minister, interior minister, and chief negotiator for EU affairs – met yesterday in Ankara, with Interior Minister Besir Atalay hosting. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Atalay said they discussed coordinating efforts towards integrated border management, which is an opening benchmark for one of the key negotiation chapters in Turkey's EU membership negotiations. Atalay said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a circular in May to coordinate government efforts on the issue. "We have our own problems with our management of the borders. There is disarray and multi-headed management. This needs to be ended," Atalay said. "The issue was included in our National Program for the Adoption of the EU acquis, and we are fulfilling the requirements. Turkey has to see this through. This is one of the benchmarks of Chapter 24 (of the negotiations). All ministries involved are working, and we will be sending a bill on integrated border management to Parliament by year's-end." Ankara argues that once Turkey meets the technical criteria – biometric passports, integrated border management, etc. – EU visa requirements for Turkish citizens should be eliminated. Ankara has been demanding that the EU abolish these requirements for Turkish nationals traveling to EU member countries, saying agreements signed by the EU and Turkey necessitate this.