A European Union delegation will visit Turkey in mid-May to discuss the refugee issues and a visa-free travel deal, EU sources said yesterday.
Earlier in February, Ankara handed Brussels a working plan for Turkish citizens to travel visa-free to Schengen countries. The plan is currently being examined, said the source on condition of anonymity.
The technical delegation from the EU Commission will convey their views on the seven outstanding criteria, out of a total of 72, that Ankara was expected to fulfill. On April 4, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik told Parliament's foreign affairs committee that visa-free proposal has already been discussed with the European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
"They will send a technical delegation [on visa liberalization] to Turkey this month," Çelik said, adding that, "They will convey their views [on the visa liberalization] to us."
In March 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The deal also pledged acceleration in Turkey's EU membership bid and a visa-free regime for Turkish nationals traveling to the Schengen area, given Ankara met some 72 requirements set by the EU.
Turkey has long complained of the EU being slow to release the promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.
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