Turkish citizens have taken a step closer to visa-free travel to the EU, officials from the European Commission and the Turkish government said on Wednesday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters in Brussels will sign a agreement on December the 16th.
He said the deal marked a “historic day for Turkish people, for the EU and for the process of Turkish integration.”
“After long efforts by Turkish and European authorities, today we agreed to start, to launch visa liberalisation dialogue and also to sign readmission agreement,” Ankara’s top diplomat said.
In return, Ankara will be expected to sign a deal that will allow EU governments to send back illegal immigrants crossing into Europe from Turkey.
“(The agreement) creates sustainable momentum in our relations that should first of all have the positive impact of putting accession talks back on track”, said EU enlargement commission Stefan Fuele.
In another sign of improved relations, Turkey and the EU began a new round of membership talks last month. Talks had been delayed by the bloc in protests over a Turkish crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.
Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying. But a series of political obstacles, notably over the divided island of Cyprus, and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.