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Turkey's quest for EU visa waiver more likely to cause strife than progress

Turkey has renewed efforts to get a visa waiver from the European Union, but the move could result in fresh tensions, as many in Europe remain incensed over Ankara’s human rights record.
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ANKARA, Turkey — In a 2013 deal with Turkey, the European Union had offered Turkish citizens the prospect of visa-free travel on the condition that Ankara met 72 criteria on democratic rights, especially the freedoms of thought and expression, the judiciary, civic society, economic transparency and combating corruption.

Visa-free travel for Turkish citizens was also a key issue in the refugee deal Turkey and the EU signed in March 2016. Ankara was supposed to meet all of the criteria by the end of that June, but failed to do so. The EU said seven criteria remained outstanding, criticizing Ankara for its broad definition of terrorism, which infringed on the freedoms of thought and expression. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was infuriated. In a speech on May 6, 2016, he said Turkey remained under the threat of terrorism and slammed European authorities for tolerating exiled supporters of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party, considered a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community. “We're going our way, you go yours,” he declared.

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