Never before has there been a European Union candidate negotiating accession for years whose citizens are unable to travel to the EU without a visa. Turkey is the exception.
While visa liberalization has been a crucial element for EU relations with other south eastern European countries, the EU has not been prepared to discuss the topic until summer 2012, when the Commission received a mandate for a visa liberalization process. Since then, little has happened. What explains the current stalemate? What can be done to cut through this visa knot? Given the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 Association Agreement between Turkey and the EU, the time for a breakthrough is now.
Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul and the European Stability Initiative held a roundtable discussion June 6 on policy options regarding visa liberalization for Turkey, featuring Gerald Knaus (at right), chairman of the European Stability Initiative (ESI), who will present ESI’s more recent report, entitled, "Cutting the Turkey-EU Visa Knot: How Turks can travel freely to Europe." Knaus presented ESI's five specific recommendations on how Turkey and the EU can move successfully towards visa liberalization.
Since 2004 the ESI, a Berlin-based think tank, has published a large number of reports on Turkey for a wide European audience. These reports are all available at www.esiweb.org. ESI has worked on issue of visa liberalization since 2006, supported by an advisory board including Giuliano Amato (Italy), Otto Schily (Germany) and Charles Clark (United Kingdom). Since 2012, with the support of Stiftung Mercator, the focus has been on visa liberalization for Turkey: www.whitelistproject.eu.