17 December 2014
Istanbul – ESI briefing: The end of visas for Turkish citizens - Where are we today?
Photo: ESI
Photo: ESI

On 17 December, ESI organized an in-depth briefing in Istanbul about the EU-Turkey visa liberalisation process. ESI's Gerald Knaus and Francesco Luciani, European Commission official in charge of the visa liberalisation process for Turkey, briefed participants and answered questions about where this process stands today and what it will take for Turkey to see visa lifted.

Priorities where too little has happened (see ESI's scorecard) are: progress on integrated border management; progress on data protection; progress on cooperation with EU neighbours, including Greece in the Aegean; a number of important Council of Europe conventions to be ratified and implemented; bring anti-terror law in line with ECHR.

ESI thanks the Stiftung Mercator for supporting the event, and the Columbia Global Centers | Turkey for providing the facilities.


One year ago, on 16 December 2013, Turkey and the EU launched a visa liberalisation process. To qualify for visa-free travel, Turkey has to improve border management, establish an asylum system complying with international standards, respect human rights and effectively fight illegal migration. All requirements are outlined in a visa roadmap.

On 20 October 2014, the European Commission issued a first progress report. Based on it, ESI has produced a scorecard of progress, which shows where Turkey stands and what the big challenges are for the coming year (see below). As you can see, a lot remains to be done.

For more information, please visit ESI's website on the visa issue in Turkey at www.esiweb.org/visafreeturkey or in Turkish at www.esiweb.org/vizesizturkiye.

For more information on how a strict and fair accession process inspired by the visa roadmaps might revive EU-Turkey relations and the enlargement process please go here: Enlargement 2.0 – The ESI Roadmap Proposal (Belgrade presentation)

ESI on visa and the Erasmus generation: Turkish Students, Isolation and the Erasmus Challenge (24 July 2014). Also available in Turkish: Türk Öğrenciler, Tecrit ve Erasmus Sorunsalı (24 Temmuz 2014)

Photo: ESI
Photo: ESI
Photo: ESI
Photo: ESI
About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com