Turkey to step up efforts to meet EU criteria for visa liberalisation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered public institutions to accelerate efforts to meet the European Union’s criteria easing the process of issuing visas to Turks, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday. 

“In order to ensure the completion of visa liberalisation for our citizens, it is necessary to accelerate efforts to meet the criteria registered in the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap and to ensure the continuity of efforts which are confirmed to have been met by the European Commission,” Anadolu quoted a circular published in the Official Gazette as saying. 

The circular said the visa liberation negotiations with the bloc would be headed by the Directorate of EU Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

Visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens was a key component of the EU-Turkey refugee deal struck in 2016, which aimed to reduce the number of refugees from Syria reaching Europe via Greek islands near the Turkish mainland.

Turkey has to fulfil 72 EU criteria for Turkish nationals’ to be allowed visa-free travel to the bloc.