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EU Easing Visas for Turks, Proposes Quotas, Fines for Member States

  • VOA News

A flag seller waits for customers in front of the 17th century Ottoman era New Mosque (Yeni cami) in Istanbul, Turkey, May 4, 2016.

A flag seller waits for customers in front of the 17th century Ottoman era New Mosque (Yeni cami) in Istanbul, Turkey, May 4, 2016.

The European Commission (EC) is recommending that Turks be allowed to travel to Europe without visas for vacations and business visits of up to 90 days.

The commission said Wednesday that Turkey met most of the 72 requirements for visa waivers for Turkish citizens who travel in the passport-free Schengen area and asked member states and EU lawmakers to endorse the policy by June 30.

Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said that Turkey has indicated it would be able to fulfill all the benchmarks on time.

"Turkey indicated it would be able to accelerate all the reforms necessary to reach fulfillment of the benchmarks sooner than previously agreed," he said. "This process is based on a set of 72 clearly defined benchmarks which makes sure that all the safeguards that should accompany visa-free travel are in place. These include strong guarantees on security and measures that prevent travelers from overstaying."

Turkey must fulfill the five remaining criteria, including biometric passports and human rights issues, before the visa waiver is approved.

A street sign marks the beginning of Schengen, Luxembourg, January 27, 2016. The Schengen Agreement with the goal to illiminate internal border controls was signed on June 14, 1985 in the small village at the river Moselle and the tripoint of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

A street sign marks the beginning of Schengen, Luxembourg, January 27, 2016. The Schengen Agreement with the goal to illiminate internal border controls was signed on June 14, 1985 in the small village at the river Moselle and the tripoint of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Quotas and fines

The EC also unveiled a plan under which member states that refuse to take asylum seekers could face large fines.

Central European foreign ministers rejected the EU executive commission's proposals for quotas and fines. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto criticized it as “blackmail.”

"The quota concept is a dead end street and I would like to ask the commission not to run into this dead end street anymore," Szijjarto said after a meeting with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland in Prague.

The EC also approved a six-month extension of controls at the German-Austrian border, as well as at Austria's borders with Slovenia and Hungary and at Danish, Swedish and Norwegian borders.

Paris incident

In a development related to the migrant crisis, French police used tear gas Wednesday on protesters as officials removed migrants from a Paris school where they had been sheltering for the past few weeks.

A migrant' supporter raises his hands as a policeman escorts him during a protest against the Jean-Jaurès highschool evacuation in Paris on May 4, 2016.

A migrant' supporter raises his hands as a policeman escorts him during a protest against the Jean-Jaurès highschool evacuation in Paris on May 4, 2016.

At least 150 migrants had occupied the Jean-Jaures school in northeast Paris while it was undergoing renovation. Police arrived to force them to move. Those inside the building barricaded the doors as protesters sought to block entry from the outside.

Paris Police Chief Michel Cadot confirmed that officers had used tear gas to clear out the protesters.

Cadot said the migrants are being moved to shelters and encouraged them to apply for asylum.

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