EP rapporteur says Turkey given positive outlook in visa talks

The European Parliament (EP) rapporteur on Turkey has said the EP deliberately omitted a “long-term perspective” on visa liberalization talks with Turkey, standing in sharp contrast to a European Council decision.

EP rapporteur says Turkey given positive outlook in visa talks

Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament (EP) rapporteur on Turkey, has said the EP deliberately omitted a “long-term perspective” on visa liberalization talks with Turkey, standing in sharp contrast to a European Council decision.

“We are not talking about a long-term perspective, unlike the council. It was deliberately removed in the EP report,” she told a group of Turkish reporters last week in Brussels.

She also underlined that visa liberalization for Turkish nationals will come in parallel with the signing of the readmission agreement by the Turkish government.

The EP resolution on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey, which was voted on and adopted on April 18, welcomed the council's decision to authorize the European Commission to take steps towards visa liberalization in parallel with the signing of the readmission agreement. It also urged Turkey to sign and implement the readmission agreement without further delay.

The removal of the “long-term perspective” in the EP resolution was aimed at dispelling concerns of the Turkish side, which is skeptical about whether the roadmap for visa liberalization will actually conclude with a visa waiver for Turkish citizens at the end of the process.

Dutch parliamentarian Oomen-Ruijten said the language of the EP resolution was very positive and should be acknowledged by Turkey as well.

However, a draft recommendation penned by German Christian Democrat Renate Sommer on the readmission agreement and discussed last week by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the EP drew Turkey's ire. In contrast to Oomen-Ruijten's EP resolution, Sommer's draft alleged that Turkey is asking for visa liberalization before signing the readmission agreement when in fact Ankara has been asking for a parallel process.

The factual mistakes and harsh language in Sommer's draft prompted criticism from Turkey's EU Affairs Minister and chief negotiator Egemen Bağış, who said: “We see it as the delirium of a deputy. We don't take it seriously. We are having talks on visas with the EU Commission. We cannot sacrifice these talks due to the efforts of a deputy to attract attention. If we had said ‘yes' to such baseless demands, we would have set the plan into action. But we did not care about this and requested the preparation of an action plan that includes our sensitivities, and we are following up with our request.”

Oomen-Ruijten lamented the negative remarks made by Bağış on Sommer's report. “Is what he said helpful? Perhaps it was for him in Turkey. But you should not forget that what he says in Turkey also affects the EU,” Oomen-Ruijten stated.

“If I was in Mr. Bağış's place, I would have said that ‘the content of the report is positive and we should start immediately on official visa dialogue.' That could have been the answer,” she went on to add.

The EP resolution also underlined that until the readmission agreement enters into force, existing bilateral agreements are to be fully implemented. Recalling that Turkey is one of the key transit countries for irregular migration to the EU, the resolution said the EP acknowledges the steps undertaken by Turkey to prevent irregular migration while calling for intensified cooperation between the EU and Turkey on migration management, the fight against human trafficking and border controls.

Bağış issued a written statement in April, offering Turkey's perspective on the visa talks. “The resolution attaches importance to the signing of the readmission agreement. However, we would like to reiterate that the roadmap towards a visa-free regime with Turkey should include Turkey's concerns,” Bağış said.

Oomen-Ruijten said that Turkey wants to sign the readmission agreement and at the same time, wants to see the end of the process. “That is not how we do it,” she explained, stressing that once Turkey signs the agreement, negotiations will then start. Turkey is reportedly delaying ratification of the agreement because it wants the European Union to introduce practical visa facilitation measures for Turkish citizens.

Oomen-Ruijten also said that she was happy to see that the EP resolution was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 451-75.

Cihan

Last Mod: 21 Mayıs 2013, 09:44
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