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No: 172, 21 June 2012, Press Release Regarding the Mandate of the EU Commission to Start Negotiations towards Visa Exemption for Turkish Citizens

Today (21 June 2012), the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on developing cooperation with Turkey in the areas of Justice and Home Affairs where the Council invited the EU Commission to establish a broader dialogue and cooperation framework including all issues in the field of Justice and Home Affairs between Turkey and the EU. Furthermore, the Council mandated the EU Commission to start negotiations for providing visa exemption to Turkish citizens in parallel to the signature of the readmission agreement in the conclusion.
 
Turkey has linked the initialling of the readmission agreement to the authorization of the EU Commission by the Council of the EU to start the process that will lead to visa exemption. Following this Council mandate, the Readmission Agreement text was reciprocally initialled today (21 June 2012) in Brussels. Thus, an important step was taken.
 
The agreement is related to the readmission of the persons who entered illegally to EU Member States, when it is established with certainty that they travelled through Turkey, with the aim of returning them to their countries of origin. The negotiations on the agreement which had been continued since 2005 were concluded over a balanced and an applicable text in January 2011. For sure, the readmission agreement will also contribute to Turkey's combat against illegal immigration.

In the next phase it is expected that an Action Plan, prepared by the EU Commission consisting of the necessary steps to be taken by Turkey in the process towards visa exemption, will be conveyed to Turkey. After the said Action Plan is received and when it is approved by being examined in consultation with all of relevant Turkish institutions, the readmission agreement will be signed in parallel to the official launching of the negotiations on visa exemption. Therefore, we call for the EU Commission to prepare the Action Plan within a short time and convey it to Turkey.

The date when Turkish citizens will have the opportunity to travel to EU Member States without visa depends on the process of negotiations on the visa exemption between Turkey and the EU Commission. Turkey wishes this process to be completed as quickly as possible.

The lifting of existing visa requirements for Turkish citizens as soon as possible will be a significant step towards the development of relations between Turkey and the EU positively.