With the EU signing visa liberalization agreements with non-EU-candidate countries, President Abdullah Gül called the European body’s strict visa policy toward Turkish citizens “unacceptable,” following the announcement of a visa liberalization dialogue on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Gaziantep on Friday, Gül commented on the visa liberalization dialogue agreement between Turkey and the EU that will be signed on Dec. 16. He said the signing of the agreement is a significant step as Turkey has already integrated into the EU to a large extent.

Gül complained of the troubles Turkey has faced during its EU candidacy, saying that although Turkey has been conducting negotiations for full membership and is a full member in the EU’s Customs Union, Turkish nationals — including important scientists, athletes and investors — have had a difficult time trying to visit European Union countries. He said while the EU is lifting visa restrictions on people from Latin America to Russia and from the Balkans to many other countries, it was applying harsh conditions on Turkey.

“Now efforts and bargains — as they also have made demands from us — have reached a certain point. I hope in a short time, [maybe] in a few years, Turkish citizens can [have] the right to travel to European countries without visas. I see this as an important development,” he said.

In Brussels, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Wednesday in a joint conference with EU Commissioners Cecilia Malmström and Stefan Füle that Turkish citizens will be able to travel to European countries without visas in three years’ time after Turkey and the EU reached an agreement to start a “visa liberalization dialogue” in Ankara on Dec. 16. The readmission agreement will also be signed simultaneously to end a several-year-long saga that has been blocking the elimination of visa requirements for Turkish citizens seeking to travel to Europe. see more

source: todayszaman