Turkish citizens to travel visa-free to EU by 2018, possibly 2017: EU official

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 21.11.2015 23:57
Updated 22.11.2015 15:24
The head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey Hansjörg Haber is speaking in a press conference in Ankara after releasing the EU progress report on Turkey, November 10, 2015. (AA Photo)
The head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey Hansjörg Haber is speaking in a press conference in Ankara after releasing the EU progress report on Turkey, November 10, 2015. (AA Photo)

The head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, Hansjörg Haber, said a system for visa-free travel between the EU and Turkey is planned to start in 2018. Haber also said that if everything goes well, the plan may see early implementation in 2017.

Commenting on Haber and EU Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Stefano Manservisi's recent visit to the Trabzon Chamber of Commerce and Industry in northeastern Turkey on Nov. 20, chamber head M. Suat Hacısalihoğlu said that the EU's stance on visa-free travel for Turkish citizens looked "promising."

Explaining that the visa-free regime is planned for the end of 2018, Haber stressed the importance of "exchanging information on developments and being in contact."

Noting that the chamber has business development protocols with 35 countries, Hacısalihoğlu said that more and more protocols are being signed with the EU every day. He added that he does not see many obstacles on the path to visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as the continuing relationship between the EU and Turkey was a sign of "integration."

On Nov. 17, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had agreed to speed up the implementation of the visa-free system for Turkish citizens to the Schengen zone.

Commissioner for EU Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that the EU seeks a fresh start with Turkey, and said that there is "new momentum in the EU-Turkey relationship."

The EU has offered Ankara 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in a financial aid plan to keep some 2.2 million Syrian refugees within its borders in return for quickening EU accession talks and speeding up visa liberalization for Turkey's citizens visiting Europe.

The plan offers 3 billion euros to Ankara in return for systematizing the refugee flows to the EU. According to the plan, Ankara would use the financial support for the care and registration of refugees while EU countries accept a certain number of refugees each year.

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