Turkey, EU nearing completion of visa facilitation deal
A long-expected visa facilitation deal that would ease procedures for Turkish citizens to obtain a Schengen visa from European Union countries is almost complete, diplomatic sources said yesterday. "We aim for a full visa exemption for Turkish citizens before Turkey joins the EU. The facilitation agreement will be merely the first step to this," a Turkish diplomat said. The European Council is expected to discuss the issue in October. The agreement would seek some privileges for certain sectors of Turkish society, especially people traveling for business, culture, education, science and similar reasons. "We are aware how this issue of visa causes disappointment and difficulties in Turkey. The European Commission is of the opinion that facilitating visa regime would be in the interest of both Turkey and the EU," Marc Pierini, head of the European Commission representation in Turkey, told daily Radikal. Saying that a delegation will visit Turkey next week to look into progress Turkey has made on biometric passports and joint border management, Pierini added that the October meeting could bring ease procedures for Turkish citizens. Following a recent European Court of Human Rights ruling that visa requirements can't be imposed on Turkish citizens entering the territory of an EU member state in order to provide services there on behalf of a company or project established in Turkey, Ankara has been pushing for the visa-free travel right of Turkish citizens arising from the Ankara Agreement.