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Visa-Free Travel: Turkey’s Negotiating Card

passports_turkeyVisa-free travel within the Schengen Area — a dream-come-true for most Turks — is the latest ace up Turkey’s sleeve as its government has said it will in return contribute to solving the refugee problem currently plaguing the Mediterranean.

But what would this mean for Turkey’s residents? Turkish citizens would finally be able to leave the massive bureaucracy involved in travel behind them and have visa-free access to 26 Schengen member states.

The new regime, according to the draft agreement approved by the EU-Turkey summit last week, has been slated to take effect in June and will be enforced only if Turkey meets 72 terms, among which are the harmonization of Turkey’s personal data and passport control systems with EU standards, and cooperation with countries such as Cyprus and Bulgaria.

Under the new system, applicants will have the right to stay in the Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days. This restriction is aimed at hindering Turkish citizens from entering the EU to work and to benefit from social allowances in countries such as Germany.

Experts, however, are expressing concerns about the decision. June, they say, is not enough time for Turkey to deal with issues of corruption and organized crime. Furthermore, this may also lead to a potential outbreak of violence in southeastern Turkey, with the Kurdish issue in the focus again. Figures reveal that hostilities in the region may lead to a new influx of migrants to the EU, with predictions of some 350,000 Kurds.

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