Turkey prepared to relax crackdown for visa-free EU travel

The Turkish government is prepared to reform a number of laws, including easing anti-terrorism laws, to meet the terms of a deal for visa-free travel to EU countries, the EUobserver website reported on Monday.

Turkey and the European Union signed a deal in March 2016 on the movement of Syrian refugees through Turkey to the EU, with Turkey agreeing to take back refugees who arrived irregularly in EU countries in exchange for money and visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens.

Turkey’s authoritarian crackdown on dissent since the failed July 2016 coup attempt has been a stumbling block preventing the deal from being fully realised, due to a number of EU benchmarks that must be met before visa restrictions can be lifted.

Turkey’s anti-terror laws are among the issues which fail to meet those benchmarks. However, this may not be an issue for much longer, as Turkey is now prepared to reform these laws, according to the EUovserver’s report.

The country’s willingness to reform these laws is down to the perception that the struggle is all but won against Gülenists, the followers of a Turkish preacher who Ankara blames for the 2016 coup attempt.

“Now things are settled, investigations are mostly completed, everyone is basically checked, who might be a Gulenist, who is not Gulenist, those who claimed to be Gulenist, things are now settled,” EUobserver quoted Faruk Kaymakçı, Turkey’s ambassador to the EU as saying.

Turkey is also eager to receive the remaining half of the 6 billion euros promised in the 2016 deal, according to the EUobserver’s report.

The second half of the money is reportedly set to be used on integration and return of Syrian refugees.