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European Union close to granting visa-free travel to Turks

Andy Uhler May 4, 2016
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A Turkish flag hangs next to the flag of Europe outside a hotel in Istanbul. “The relationship between the EU and Turkey is a very foul one right now,” says Kemal Kirişci, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

European officials met Wednesday morning, tentatively agreeing that Turks should be allowed to travel in much of Europe without a visa. 

In March, Turkey agreed to help stop migrants crossing the Aegean Sea into Europe. The European Union had agreed to give Turkey €6 billion. Eric Schwartz, dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, said Turkey was in a strong bargaining position.

European Union officials hold that Turkey must meet the same requirements for visa-free travel as other countries. Kemal Kirişci, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said he doesn’t expect both sides to be on the same page.

“The relationship between the EU and Turkey is a very foul one right now,” he said.

Europe has criticized Turkey’s human rights record, while Turkey has accused the European Union of dragging its feet. Germany, which got flak for the deal with Turkey, has taken in more than 1 million refugees. Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said something’s gotta give.

“Make no bones about it, this is an existential crisis for Europe,” he said. “This is why [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] had to make the deal.”

 

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