(MENAFN - The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) >The European Commission recommended on Wednesday visa-free travel for around 80 million Turkish citizens inside Europe’s Schengen borderless zone.
Turkey has five benchmarks out of an initial total of 72 to fulfill by the end of June according to the European Commission the European Union’s executive body. "Turkey has made impressive progress particularly in recent weeks on meeting the benchmarks of its visa liberalization roadmap” European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in Brussels on Wednesday. "There is still work to be done as a matter of urgency but if Turkey sustains the progress made they can meet the remaining benchmarks" he added. In order for the visa waiver to take effect from July the commission’s recommendation must first be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states which have relied heavily on Turkey to stem the flow of refugees seeking to enter Europe. The 72 benchmarks include practical matters such as document security migration management public order and security as well as issues such as fundamental rights and the readmission of “irregular migrants” according to the commission the EU’s executive body. On Tuesday Turkey’s cabinet approved visa-free travel for citizens of EU member states seeking to visit the country according to its official gazette. However the measure will only be implemented once the EU accepts visa liberalization for Turkish nationals. Citizens of most EU member states in the Schengen borderless zone are already exempt from obtaining a visa before visiting Turkey with the exception of citizens of Austria Belgium the Netherlands Poland Portugal and Spain. EU member states including the U.K. and Ireland are not part of the Schengen zone and are therefore exempt from the visa freedom agreement and continue to require Turkish citizens to apply for visa upon a visit. Visa exemption will apply to the four Schengen-associated countries Iceland Liechtenstein Norway and Switzerland according to the European Commission.