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Telegraph and Express misrepresent risk of Turkey visa deal

by Jack Schickler | 17.05.2016

The Telegraph splash today says “EU leaders have admitted” the visa liberalisation deal between the EU and Turkey means “terrorists are more likely to attack European countries”. The Express takes a similar line, saying “EU FINALLY admits its deal with Turkey INCREASES risk of terror attacks in Europe”.

In fact, the European Commission did not say the deal would lead to an increased terror risk. The papers base their articles on a report – admittedly at times confusingly drafted – which notes: “The removal of the visa obligation … on Turkish citizens travelling to the EU is not expected to increase growth of organised crime and terrorist activities in the EU”.

The Express compounded its error by failing to point out that the UK isn’t even covered by the deal. It only includes the border-free Schengen area, which Britain doesn’t belong to.

The EU-Turkey deal, if concluded, will give Turkish citizens the right to travel to the Schengen zone for up to 90 days without a visa. In return, Greece gets certain rights to return migrants to Turkey. Ankara also has to make various reforms, such as better border controls. If they aren’t met, the visa arrangements can be suspended or withdrawn.

The EU report does say that visa liberalisation “could potentially have an impact on the terrorist risk” in the EU. It notes “it is realistic to expect” visa liberalisation “will facilitate the movement of all Turkish citizens across the EU borders, including criminals of Turkish nationality”, and refers to “the security risk” of this increased mobility. It also notes that the deal makes it likely that “foreign nationals will start trying” to fraudulently obtain Turkish passports, which “may attract … criminals and terrorists”.

But, after doing so, the report goes on to detail how the conditions in the agreement address and mitigate these risks, such as Turkey introducing biometric passports, new counter-terror laws, and a stronger capacity to fight organised crime and terror financing.

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What’s more, the flow of migrants to Schengen via Greece has already fallen since the deal with Turkey was provisionally agreed. If this irregular route to migration is progressively shut down, that may cut the opportunity for jihadists to enter Schengen masquerading as refugees.

Contacted by InFacts, the Telegraph drew attention to the passages cited above which highlight the potential impact on the terrorist risk in Europe, and said that the measures to be taken by Turkey did not nullify the risk, but mitigated them. The Express did not respond to our request for comment.

This article was amended shortly after publication to make clear that those seeking fraudulent Turkish passports may include criminals and terrorists. 

Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “Telegraph and Express misrepresent risk of Turkey visa deal”

  • The whole debacle of the referendum is a ruse for an ulterior motive. All the Brexit arguments are fundamentally flawed by pure quasa racist emotionalism. The twenty seven nations of the EU would have provided fundental paradigms of positive structural support for all its members for all their best benefits.

    The Brexiters ulterior motive is an ultra right wing coups to install a government of quasa despotic function!