World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey's European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator for accession talks Egemen Bagis said visa exemption for Turkish nationals visiting EU countries would be "a win-win situation" for both Turkey and the Union.
Speaking at a press conference after the 50th meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council in Brussels on Friday with EU's enlargement official Stefan Fule and EU term president Denmark's Minister of European Cooperation Nicolai Wammen, Bagis said negotiations on visa exemption could take three years before Turks can travel to EU-member countries without obtaining a visa.
"Turkey will fulfill its obligations rapidly if the EU shows a positive stance. I am confident that the EU will show the same sincerity as Turkey fulfilled its obligations," Bagis said.
Also speaking at the press conference, Fule and Wammen both underlined that the visa exemption negotiation was not "an open-ended process," saying that the process would continue not on political decisions but each obligation the sides would fulfill.
"Visa exemption will not come tomorrow but this does not mean that this is an open-ended process. But it is early to give any specific date," Fule said.
The EU authorized the European Commission to launch visa exemption talks with Turkey on Thursday in a simultaneous move with Turkey's initialling a readmission agreement with the EU.
Turkey will wait for an EU action plan on visa exemption which the Commission will present in a year before penning the readmission agreement which would allow expulsion of Turkish nationals who entered the EU territory illegally without any formality.
Readmission for third-country nationals will be possible following a three-year transition period which would allow for the construction of modern refugee processing centers.
The Commission is expected to present a visa exemption action plan this autumn and the implementation of the action plan is likely to come a minimum two and a half years.
Diplomatic sources say actual visa-free travel for Turks visiting the EU could be possible within 4-6 years and it would require a majority of votes in the EU.
Turkey demands simultaneous implementation of visa-exemption and the readmission agreement.