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EU Backs Visa-Free Travel For Turkey

The European Commission has recommended that Turkish citizens be allowed to travel to Europe without visas on short vacations and business trips.

The EU's executive arm said on May 4 that Turkey had met most of the 72 criteria needed for a visa waiver, and it invited member states and EU lawmakers to endorse the move by June 30.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said that "there is still work to be done as a matter of urgency but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hailed the decision, saying it brought Turkish citizens closer than ever to visa-free travel to Europe.

The move is part of a package of incentives offered to Turkey -- including up to 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees and fast-track EU membership talks -- to persuade Ankara to stop migrants heading to Europe and take thousands back from Greece.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters