In the recent spat between Turkey and the EU, the Turkish government has been (or at least that's the impression I've been getting from the reporting of the issue) pushing very hard for the visa-free access to the EU for its citizens that was part of the refugee deal (albeit with pre-conditions) earlier this year.

Why is the Turkish government pushing so hard for visa-free travel to the EU? Is it "merely" to stimulate trade and business, is there a strong political constituency at home which is demanding it (and might withdraw its support for the government if visa-free travel doesn't happen), or is there another reason? I ask because it seems odd for the government to push so hard on what appears, on the face of it, to be a minor part of the EU-Turkey negotiations.

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    The turks want to be European (and therefore part of the EU). Free movement of it's citizens within the EU is psuedo-membership. There are already millions of turks in various European states. Quite frankly, the only truth to turks-as-europeans claim is their ability to absorb former parts of European society (from Constantinople all the way up to Vienna in 1529) into their sphere of influence Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Actually the interests are not much different from the answer of this question, but I will try to explain the perspective of the Turkish government.

Visa-free travel is not Turkish people's first priority for accession to the EU, but only the third according to the Economic Development Foundation's report. If President Erdogan and his party respected people's will, they would try to accomplish the first two wills.

  1. The level of prosperity and economic development
  2. Development of democracy and human rights
  3. Roaming, settlement and education in Europe

I can list the following reasons for the Turkish government's insist on visa exemption.

1. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe*

According to the agreement in 1957, Turkish citizens already had the right of visa-free travel. The agreement was in force until 1980, but Turkish citizens were excluded after the 1980 Turkish coup.

In 2013, Erdogan (was Prime Minister at that time) blamed the military junta in Turkey for that. The translation of his word is as follows.

The visa application was demanded by the coup regime after September 12, 1980. In particular, visa restrictions were put in place to prevent the intellectuals and artists of our country from escaping from the pressure of the junta.

2. Turkey is an equal candidate for accession to the EU

The EU recognized Turkey as a candidate for full membership in 1999. Erdogan thinks that this should have led a visa exemption (from the speech in 2013 again).

The visa hurdle should have been removed much earlier. Turkey should benefit from these opportunities as other candidates.

3. Turkey-EU relations are getting worse

The Turkish government wants to restore relations, which didn't go well in the recent years. Erdogan says that the visa matter is a good opportunity for that.

Turkey-EU relations suffered a loss of momentum. This is not caused by Turkey as all our friends know well. Our relations will gain momentum by the recent opening of negotiations on 22nd chapter and these signatures.

  • how do you know that "There is no strong demand for visa-free travel by Turkish people"? Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:32
  • Just considering the latest purges, how many Turks would like to GTFO but can't because their passport is taken? Never mind the arguments about relatives living abroad etc. raised in the original question. You're just brushing these aside without any real [counter-]arguments, never mind data, like an opinion poll. Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:38
  • @Fizz Visa-free travel doesn't provide any right to immigrate, they are irrelevant. I will try to find a reference for the demand, but it will not be easy to prove non-existence of something.
    – user15657
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:59
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    @Fizz A passport is required for visa-free travel to the EU. Someone whose passport has been taken won't have an easier or harder time getting to the EU because of visa-free travel or the lack thereof. Furthermore, the visa exemption does not apply to long-term visits (over 90 days). The only people affected are short-term visitors.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 15:26

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