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ANKARA

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik on Wednesday said a delegation of the EU would visit Turkey this month to discuss visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. 

Speaking to lawmakers in parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Celik said that they have 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, and added:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“They will convey their views [on visa liberalization] to us.”

After a long time, Turkey-EU summit was held in the Bulgarian city of Varna on March 27.

Regarding visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, Ankara had submitted the necessary paperwork to the EU Commission in early February.

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 3 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.

[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]‘More racist than racists’

Celik slammed the remarks of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who called on the EU to end the negations with Turkey.

The EU minister stressed that Kurz has showed an approach “more racist than racists.”

“A sentence like ‘let’s end Turkey-EU relations, but let’s improve our relations in other areas’ is the biggest lie being spoken in Europe,” said Celik.

Noting that Austria’s oppositional stance against Turkey has turned to a “hostile approach,” the minister said his country would never accept such attitude.

“The main issue with regards to Turkey is the perspective of full membership. I want to state here once again that we would never accept any approach other than the full membership.”

Ties between the two countries also soured in late 2016, due to Austrian restrictions on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey. The campaigns were directed at Turkish nationals living in Austria.

Ankara has also sharply criticized the Austrian government for illiberal integration policies, populistic rhetoric, and failure to take a strong stance against growing racism and Islamophobia.

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