Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, the European Union(EU) executive will recommend the easing of visa requirements for Turks traveling to the EU zone.
This proposal, a much desired perk for Turkey, represents an aspect of a migrant deal Turkey struck with the EU earlier this year in an effort to ease the continent's migrant crisis involving tens of thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Turkey and the EU have entered into an agreement for the EU to return undocumented migrants and refugees to Turkey and for the EU to resettle a Syrian refugee for each migrant Turkey accepts back from the EU. Along with the visa-free travel for Turks, Turkey has also been promised and given cash and a fast-track to discussions on Turkey's membership into the EU.
According to Reuters, the 28-member EU will put forward the proposition for Turkish visa-free travel within the union after Turkey threatened to walk away from the migrant agreement if the action was not completed. Turkey, reportedly, had to complete a 72-point requirement before the EU executive agreed to the new measure.
Turkey might not have completed the 72-point tasks. Reuters cited an EU official who disclosed yesterday that Turkey was now meeting 65 of the benchmarks. Back in April, an EU official complained Turkey had met less than half of the benchmarks. Yet, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva has admitted: "Turkey has made a lot of efforts over the past weeks and days to meet the criteria, including for example...on access to the labor market for non-Syrian refugees."
However, the longevity of the Turkish visa-free travel within the EU zone could rest upon Turkey's recognition of Cyprus - an EU member, and upon President Tayyip Erdogan's civil and minority rights record as well as upon Turkey's freedom of speech and the rule of law.