Terror boon? EU eyes visa-free travel for Turks

EU proposes to grant Turks visa-free entry, raising fears of a terror influx as Turkey has been a key point in the jihadist migration.

Tags: EU Turkey Visas
Ari Yashar ,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

The European Union's executive announced on Wednesday that on May 4, it will propose giving citizens of Turkey visa-free travel to the EU starting in late June if Ankara meets the remaining conditions.

Talk of the visa-free travel program follows on an agreement last month to curb migration, but the EU said Turkey still needs to do more to return migrants from Greece and resettle Syrian migrants from Turkey to Europe, reports Reuters.

In order for the visa liberalization to occur, the EU says Turkey still needs to work on giving all refugees access to the labor market, beefing up visa requirements for countries with high migration risks, and ending discrimination against citizens of EU-member state Cyprus that Turkey doesn't recognize.

"The Commission will present its third visa liberalization progress report for Turkey on May 4 and if Turkey takes the necessary measures to fulfill the remaining benchmarks, the report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal for transferring Turkey to the visa-free list," read the EU report on the matter.

The visa-free program raises concerns of an influx of terror, as Turkey has been the leading entry and exit point for jihadists traveling between Europe and Syria, and a large number of Turkish citizens are members of terrorist organizations.

Fears are high in both Germany and France at the prospect of a mass influx of Turkish migrants. The visa program would allow Turks to work or stay up to three months, although it is possible they could simply go missing - Germany in January admitted to losing track of over one million new Muslim migrants.

After the Islamic State (ISIS) Brussels bombings in March, in which 32 victims were murdered, Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that Belgian terrorists can enter the US without a visa in a similar program.

He pointed out the problematic nature of the visa-free travel program given the massive Islamist radicalization in Belgium, and warned that due to it extremists would be able to infiltrate the US and disappear without thorough security checks upon their entry.