Turkey mulls ‘Kosovo model’ for EU visa deal

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Turkey believes that problems stemming from its non-recognition of Greek Cyprus in regards to visa liberalization could be overcome through a formula the EU has generated for Kosovo’s process despite the fact that five EU member do not recognize the Balkan state.

Turkey and the EU have been negotiating whether to liberalize the visa process for Turkish nationals — which would require Ankara to fulfill 72 criteria.

According to a senior Turkish official, there are six remaining benchmarks out of 72.

One of the benchmarks requires cooperation between Turkey and Europol and both sides will begin negotiations for an agreement today.

One of the aspects of this deal is the establishment of necessary mechanisms for judicial cooperation between Turkey and all member states, the Turkish official said on condition of anonymity, citing Ankara’s non-recognition of Greek Cyprus as the problem to this end.

“But, if there is a will, there is always a way,” said the official. ”

That way can be formulated as “Kosovo model,” according to the official.

Although five EU member states still do not officially recognize Kosovo, procedures for visawaivers have come to the final stage, the official recalled, noting that the EU has assigned a high representative to handle the necessary dialogue between Kosovo and these five EU member states.

In the same way, a member state, like Germany, can serve as a country through which Turkey and Greek Cyprus can in fact implement the legal cooperation when there is a need of extradition of two countries’ citizens over heavy and organized crimes.

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 over 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, including “revising legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards.”

Remaining regulations expected to be fulfilled by Turkey for visa liberalization are as follows: operational cooperation between Turkey the European Police Service (Europol) along with signing of a legal cooperation agreement with EU member countries, preparing third-generation passports, reviewing the law on the protection of personal data, reviewing draconian anti-terrorism legislation, and drawing an action plan to harmonize with the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) — the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body.

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