Turkish and European Union officials discussed a visa waiver for Turkish nationals in a meeting in Ankara on Thursday and Friday where they decided to continue technical talks, a diplomatic source said on Friday.
In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey's EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals in the Schengen area on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.
The diplomatic source highlighted that the EU Commission has expressed gratitude over the revitalization of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue, and the EU side had welcomed the roadmap as a positive step towards the fulfillment of the remaining criteria.
The Turkish and the EU side have agreed to continue technical talks the diplomatic source said and added that Mehmet Samsar, the director general of consular affairs with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and the EU Commission's Deputy Director-General Migration and Home Affairs Simon Mordue co-chaired Thursday's meeting.
The EU has said that Turkey has so far completed 69 of the listed criteria, but needs to change its terrorism laws. Changes to Turkey's anti-terror law remain the most contentious criteria for visa liberalization. The EU demands that Turkey, which is fighting against multiple terrorist organizations, soften its definition of terrorism.
Officials from Turkey's EU, Justice, and Interior ministries also participated in the meeting, which addressed a working plan submitted by Turkey to Brussels in February.
Meanwhile, an EU official previously told Daily Sabah, "There are seven outstanding topics left, and some of them are easier to resolve such as the introduction of biometric passports. However, there are two difficult ones that require a change in legislation since it deals with the anti-terror law and data protection."
The EU official stressed, "There are two processes, one following the other. In the technical process, the commission has to verify that the benchmarks that have been agreed to earlier between the EU and Turkey have been fulfilled. Following that, it passes over to the member states of European Parliament where it has to be adopted."
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