World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey is on its way to becoming a member of the Schengen area, the country's EU minister and chief negotiator, Volkan Bozkir, said on Thursday.
The Schengen area is a zone comprised of 26 European countries that allows citizens to cross shared borders without internal checks.
"God willing, Turkey will be a member of the Schengen area in a very short time via the abolishment of visas," Minister Bozkir told correspondents during his official visit to Luxembourg.
The European Commission launched a visa liberalization dialogue with Turkey on December 16, 2013, setting out a list divided into five chapters of what Turkey must achieve to enable Turkish citizens to travel to the EU without a visa.
The dialogue was initiated alongside a mission agreement that would result in illegal migrants who enter Europe via Turkey returning to Turkey.
The agreement will enter into effect on December 16, 2016.
However, unlike other EU accession countries such as Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkish nationals will have to wait for at least three years.
Saying that Turkey has fulfilled some of the EU requirements partially and others fully, Bozkir added "After three years, the abolishment of visas will be completed with a final report by the Commission."
Bozkir said that if the visas are not abolished, Turkey has the right to terminate the readmission agreement within six months.
Touching upon the prejudiced view that millions of Turks will look for jobs in Europe after the lifting of visas, Bozkir said "The number of EU citizens coming to Turkey will start to increase, as long as economic development in Turkey continues."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Kasım 2014, 23:52