10:18 GMT24 January 2021
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    The European Commission supported the plan to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, but with the condition that all 77 conditions necessary for the abolition of the visa regime with EU countries be implemented by Turkey as soon as possible.

    Former Head of the Strategic Planning Department and now vice president of the Turkish-Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), Murat Bilhan, spoke to Sputnik regarding how these terms by the European Commission are seen by the Turks and what the future prospects of visa liberalization process are.

    “We understand that the support of the European Commission plan to provide Turkish citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen countries — is only a recommendation, far from the actual cancellation of the visa regime.”

    Bilhan further said, “It is necessary to go through a whole series of procedures. After all, the European Parliament still has to approve this decision. It is necessary to reconcile this decision with all of the EU countries.”

    Talking about the method of decision making regarding visa abolition, Bilhan said, “We hope that the decision on the abolition of visas for citizens of Turkey will be made in the EU not using the usual veto method, but by applying the method of qualified majority. Only in that case may it be possible to count on a positive resolution to this complex process. In any case Turkey has yet to solve a lot of complex issues at hand.”

    The vice president further said that the European Commission’s step did not appear out of the blue. Just yesterday Ankara took the unprecedented step for Turkey as it abolished visas for citizens of all European countries.

    “I think in today's decision of the European Commission, at least, a psychological role was played by yesterday's decision of the Turkish government. Since Turkey could not fulfill all of the conditions necessary for the abolition of a visa regime with EU countries. Five of them were especially stressed by the European Union. Brussels expects that Turkey will fulfill them as soon as possible,” Bilhan concluded.


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