The European Union will agree Thursday to ease visa requirements for Turkish citizens, but Ankara will first have to meet several conditions in order to secure the deal, diplomats said.
BRUSSELS- EU ministers in charge of social and employment affairs are expected to endorse the deal negotiated by ambassadors during a meeting in Luxembourg.
It "begins a process that will be very long, and will last many years", said a European negotiator.
"An action plan" will be submitted to Ankara which would include "a certain number of demands".
They include the "requirement for the Turkish authorities to cooperate with all the states of the EU, including Cyprus, to better monitor their borders with the EU, to re-examine their visa policies with non-European countries, as well as to sign the re-entry accord concluded with the EU", said another negotiator.
"The road will be narrow and the Turks would have to agree to play the game," said the source.
"This easing of visas is not for tomorrow," a European diplomat said.
Several countries including Austria and France have also signalled their reservations on the issue, another diplomat said.
Turkey has become a staging point for illegal migration into the EU's passport-free Schengen zone covering 26 countries without border controls between them. The trend has been fuelled by the opening of low-cost airlinks to the country, particularly many between African cities and Istanbul.
"The migratory flow to France no longer goes through the Mediterranean. The journey of illegal migrants from the south of the Sahel and Maghreb are now going through Istanbul, on to Greece," former French interior minister Claude Gueant said in April.