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EU to give "conditional approval" for Turks' visa-free travel

EU to give

PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Commission will give conditional approval for Turks to travel without visas to Europe's passport-free Schengen area, BBC News reports citing sources familiar with the matter.

The move is part of a deal in which Turkey is taking back migrants who have crossed over the Aegean Sea to Greece. But Turkey must still meet EU criteria, and the deal must be approved by the European Parliament and member states. The EU fears that without a visa deal, Turkey will not control migration.

A formal announcement from the European Commission is due on Wednesday, May 4.

If the European Commission (the EU's executive body) does make the recommendation this Wednesday that Turks be granted visa-free travel in Europe's Schengen area, as whispers from well-placed EU sources suggest, then it will be doing so holding its nose and its breath.

The freedom of speech; the right to a fair trial; and revising terrorism legislation to better protect minority rights - these are just some of the criteria demanded by the EU of countries before it lifts visa requirements, even for short-term travel.

It is hard to see how Turkey could be described as meeting these conditions, BBC says. The government in Ankara increasingly cracks down on its critics in a manner more autocratic than democratic.

But these are desperate times for the EU. The European Commission and most EU governments are under huge public pressure to ease the migrant crisis.

Under the EU-Turkey agreement, migrants who have arrived illegally in Greece since 20 March are to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

For each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.

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