The visa-free travel regime may help potential terrorists to enter Europe via Turkey, according to Sergey Goncharov, president of the Association of veterans of the anti-terrorist unit Alpha.
The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted Sergey Goncharov, president of the Association of Veterans of Anti-Terror Units Alpha, as warning against the EU’s visa-free travel regime with Turkey which he said may help potential terrorists to gain access to Europe through Turkish territory.
His remarks came as the European Commission offered the Turks visa-free Schengen zone travel as part of an EU-Ankara deal which obliges Turkey to contain the flow of refugees to Europe in exchange for accelerating the country’s EU application process.
According to Goncharov, “the visa-free regime will inevitably create problems for the EU given the amount of young unemployed people with jihadist ideas who have gathered in Turkey.”
“As for the European intelligence agencies, they are unable to manage the large flow of people moving across the border, something that was confirmed by the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels [earlier this year],” he said.
Goncharov was echoed by Middle East expert Vladimir Avatkov who did not rule out that Ankara continuing to exert pressure on the EU to force Brussels to make concessions on the EU-Turkey migrant deal.
He recalled that Turkey had earlier used the Syrian refugees to pile pressure on the EU, with local special services reportedly providing them from other Arab countries with fake Syrian passports. This has led to a situation where both economic migrants as well as those fleeing the horrors of war are attempting to gain entry to Europe, according to Avatkov.
“Now, getting rid of unwanted persons will be even easier – it’s enough to give them citizenship. All illegal immigrants returning from Europe will either become grateful supporters of [Turkish President] Erdogan or they will again go to the EU but this time on Turkish passports. As a result, Europe’s problems will be further exacerbated,” he said.
Meanwhile, a European Commission report has warned that scrapping visa requirements for Turkey as part of the migration deal might raise the possibility of terrorist attacks in the European Union.
The UK newspaper The Telegraph quoted an extract from the report as saying that the proposed visa liberalization for Turkish travelers to the Schengen area could potentially impact the risk of terrorism in the EU as it would lift travel restrictions on terrorists which have Turkish citizenship.
In mid-March, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory and exchange them for legal Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis.
In return, the 28-member bloc pledged to accelerate Turkey’s EU accession bid and grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel within the Schengen area.
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