Turkey is hopeful of being able to secure visa free travel for its citizens to Europe within the next few years. If this happens it might give new life to relations between Turkey and the EU. A decision was recently taken by the European Union to open up talks with Turkey aimed at easing travel restrictions, and according to Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, this could be a historic step.
The EU is to begin the talks in exchange for Ankara agreeing to accept a treaty which obliges the country to take back refugees crossing into EU territory through Turkey. Turkey has become a major transit route for refugees coming from the Middle East, Africa and Asia who are looking for a better life in the West.
The implementation of such a treaty could mean that tens of thousands of people will be sent back to Turkey from EU countries every year, and could be especially beneficial to Greece.
Turkey originally began talks to become a member of the European Union in 2005, but these have encountered resistance from other countries, making progress extremely slow. As a result Turkey has become less enthusiastic to join the EU, and according to a recent poll support for EU membership has dropped from 70% in 2004 to around 45% in 2011.
However these new talks could change people’s views. Currently a visa application for countries within the Schengen group can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive, and there’s no guarantee it will be successful. Lifting of these restrictions could be very beneficial to businessman, academics and students. However some are estimating these talks could take up to 5 years to complete.