World Bulletin / News Desk
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday questioned EU's visa policy after it lifted visa restrictions for citizens from Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro on Saturday.
The EU on Saturday opened its borders unrestricted to more than ten million Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians, but Turkey, that began accession talks in 2005, still is not a part of the Schengen regime that allows free movement across borders.
Turkish FM called on the European Union to allow visa-free travel for Turks.
"It's unacceptable that certain Balkan countries that are in the initial stages of the membership process and have not begun negotiations have been given the Schengen privilege, while Turkey, considering the level that Turkish-EU relations have reached, has not," Davutoglu said at a news conference.
"We will follow this closely from now on," he said, according to the state-run Anatolian news agency.
Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro are all aspirants for EU membership, but only Macedonia has formerly attained the status of a candidate. Serbia says it is currently engaged in talks with the EU and will submit a formal application for the bid. Serbian entry has been stalled due to its failure to arrest ex-Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who has been charged with war crimes.
Mladic has been indicted by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague for genocide over the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo.
The EU on Dec. 8 agreed to begin negotiations with Turkey on one new policy area, or chapter, but kept eight others frozen because of Turkey's policy not to open its port and airports to Greek Cyprus that still has no peace deal with Turkish Cyprus on the divided island.
Turkey has opened 11 out of 35 chapters since starting talks, and Turkish officials have expressed frustration over what they consider slow progress and double standards in membership negotations.