EU delegation to visit Turkey mid-May over visa waiver

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A delegation from the EU will visit Turkey in mid-May to discuss a visa-free deal and the issue of refugees, according to EU sources on Monday.

A working plan for Turkish citizens to travel to Schengen countries visa-free, submitted by Turkey to Brussels in February, is currently being examined, said the source requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The technical delegation from the EU Commission will convey their views on the seven outstanding criteria out of a total of 72 that Ankara was expected to fulfill.

On April 4, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told lawmakers in the Parliament's foreign affairs committee that they had already discussed the proposal of visa-free travel with European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

"They will send a technical delegation [on visa liberalization] to Turkey this month," Celik said, adding: “They will convey their views [on visa liberalization] to us.”

In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.

Turkey has long complained of the EU being slow to deliver the promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.

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