German Chancellor Angela Merkel simply does as Erdogan asks.
Europe will now have to prepare for an onslaught of 80 million Turks flooding into the EU via a new visa-free travel deal. We suspect a few ISIS bad guys will also make their way on to Europe’s shores.
The only question is what EU city will immediately follow after #JeSuis.
Brussels will this week propose visa-free travel to Europe for 80m Turks but says Ankara still needs to meet several politically explosive reform conditions within weeks, including overhauling its terrorism laws and party funding rules.
The enhanced travel rights were Turkey’s main windfall from a landmark EU deal in March, in which Ankara helped dramatically cut migrant flows to Europe by agreeing to take back all migrants arriving on the Greek islands.
On Wednesday the European Commission will legally recommend Turks should be granted short-term visa-free travel to the Schengen area. But it will point out that up to nine of the 72 eligibility conditions required of Turkey remain incomplete, according to people familiar with the proposal.
The stage is now set for a stand-off before the June visa deadline, with far-reaching consequences for the migration crisis, domestic politics across Europe and Turkey’s long-term relations with the bloc. Decisions on visa rights for Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo are set to be taken at the same time.
“This is all a nightmare,” said one diplomat involved in talks. Another European diplomat described the Turkey-EU deal as carrying “the seeds of its own destruction”.
It is a gamble some senior EU officials fear “is a big mistake” and willbackfire. “This will be the perfect get-out for the Dutch, French and Germans, who are facing major domestic problems and suffering from buyer’s remorse since the Turkey deal,” the official said. “And the European Parliament will just not accept a political fudge, the Turks won’t be able to ram it through.”