With the participation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Process of Visa Exemption, final objective of which is to remove the Schengen visa applied to Turkish citizens was officially commenced by signing the Memorandum of Understanding and Readmission Agreement with the EU.
Along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Interior Muammer Guler and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and the officials participated to the ceremony held in Ankara Palace.
Statement of Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis on the commencement of visa exemption dialogue:
“Today we add a new positive development to those recently made in Turkey-EU relations.
Within the framework of the objective of our Government regarding removal of the Schengen visa applied to our citizens, the Visa Exemption Dialogue with the EU was officially commenced through the coordinated and determined efforts of our related institutions. There is no doubt that the architect of this success is our Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who instructed us to stand firm without getting stubborn and who personally followed and directed each stage of this process.
Undoubtedly, today Turkey is in the closest point to the EU standards in terms of democratization, human rights and economic development. It is actually the reflection of Turkey’s increased economic and political power that steps towards provision of visa exemption to Turkish citizens are taken with the EU, which could not even mention about “visa exemption” just 2 or 3 years ago.
In the 2013 Progress Report on Turkey, the reform determination of our Government was underlined and our determination on reform process, particularly the Democratization Package, was praised. As a follow-up of this positive atmosphere with the EU, Chapter 22 on Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments was opened to negotiations. Today we take another significant step on the way to visa exemption.
As it is known, the Council of Europe, with its decision announced on 21 June 2012, granted permission to the European Commission for starting the visa exemption negotiations, final objective of which is to remove the Schengen visa applied to Turkish citizens. In parallel to this, the Readmission Agreement was initialized between Turkey and the EU on the same day. Consequently, the European Commission prepared the Road Map for Turkey on Visa Exemption. The Road Map outlines the harmonization measures to be taken by Turkey regarding legislation and implementation on the issues such as migration and border management, public order and security, visa policy and international protection.
However, in the Road Map, we determined certain issues which are not related with visa exemption process and are unacceptable for us. Upon this, Ministry for EU Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior, in close cooperation, prepared an “Annotated Road Map” and related negotiations with the EU ended up with an agreement on carrying out the visa exemption process according to our version of the Road Map. This is a first in the history of the EU.
Our motivation in these efforts is recognition of the right to visa-free Europe for our citizens as they well deserve. Turkish citizens will be able to travel to the EU countries, except England and Ireland, without a visa in 3 or 3.5 years at the latest following the entry into force of the Readmission Agreement signed today for third country nationals.
Furthermore, as we always do, our Government and Ministry will be the guardian of the rights of our citizens stemming from the EU Law, and accordingly we will continue to defend the rights of our citizens living in Turkey or elsewhere abroad.
Removing the obstacles in front of free travel right of our citizens in Europe will also pave the way for removal of obstacles in minds and this will help quickly compensate the time that Turkey lost in the accession negotiations.
Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator”