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Turkey and EU on track to reach visa-free travel deal

The Turkish Government and the European Union are on course to reach an agreement on visa liberalization. The EU is waiting for Turkey's final proposal and both Brussels and Ankara are optimistic about finalizing the deal.

This marks a huge progression in the dialogue on this issue. The Turkish Government has not made any efforts to moving towards visa liberalization in recent years.

The agreement, if reached, will allow visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen Area. This will come as positive news for those wishing to travel between the two zones. It is possible to travel to Turkey currently with an e-Visa Turkey.

A road map outlining the key issues which need to be solved before an agreement can be reached has been drafted. In a meeting, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Minister of EU Affairs discussed the central issues include terrorism, security, and data protection.

The EU has a total of 72 benchmarks to meet before visa liberalization to become a reality. Turkey currently fulfills 65 of the 72.

Security is the key issue between Turkey and the EU

The EU demands that Turkey soften its definition of terrorism. However, Turkey are fighting numerous terrorist organizations. This is a highly contentious issue and the one most likely to hamper the deal.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner, said: "There are seven remaining benchmarks and five of them can easily be met."

"I know that the Turkish side is sensitive about the definition of terrorism issue. But EU does not want to weaken Turkey's capacity to fight terrorism," he said.

He said that this was a difficult issue for Turkey considering its battle with several terrorist organizations who are linked to last year's failed coup attempt.

"We are on the good path and Turkey is really willing to reach the final steps of this visa process. The political will is there and so is the understanding to bring Turkey closer to European standards," he said.

Turkey does not want to change its law on this issue, though it plans on making some changes in this direction. The plan is to technically meet the requirement without fundamentally changing its law.

Other criteria by the EU for visa liberalization include the introduction of biometric passports and an operational co-operation agreement with the EU police service, Europol.