News / Middle East

Visa Dispute Between Turkey and EU Further Colors Relations

Turkey's chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis addresses the media after EU Turkey accession talks at the EU Council in Brussels (file photo)
Turkey's chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis addresses the media after EU Turkey accession talks at the EU Council in Brussels (file photo)

A new dispute between Turkey and the European Union is threatening to further undermine Ankara's remaining faith in its membership bid.  The dispute centers on Brussels easing visa controls on Balkan countries, but continuing its controls on Turkish visas.

Observers say a decision by the European Union to lift most travel restrictions on Balkan countries has annoyed many Turks.

None more so than those who have to regularly apply for visas to travel to the European Union for business, like Sibel Aktas, who spoke while waiting outside the Italian consulate for a travel visa.

"Of course it is bad, we are gathering a lot of papers and together with these papers we are going to a lot of places," she said.  "So, it takes a lot of time and we spend money for some of the papers.  I hope we get rid of this process."

The EU refusal to ease visa requirements for Turkey, even though the country is applying for full membership in the bloc, has become a focal point of growing anger in Ankara. Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bagis, is crying foul.

"Well this is just another double standard that we are complaining about in the European Union," he said. "There are fears in Turkey against the European Union and fears against Turkey in the EU. And the real underlining reason for the fears?  We do not know one another enough.  People usually fear countries they do not know enough about.  Once you get to know them, you find out there strengths and weaknesses, then you realize there is nothing to be afraid of."

But Turkish analysts say arguments like these are making little headway in Brussels.

According to the co-leader of the European Green Party, Daniel Cohn Bendit, even though the European Union allows visa-free travel with poor countries like Albania, it is not a case of double standards, it is a case of relative size.

"Albania is not a problem, Turkey is a big country.  This is a debate I have had with the Turks," he said. "Free travel between Turkey and Europe is an immense opening, there are fears, there are problems, the Germans for the working market is a problem.  So we have to push in this direction you know."

But frustrations are growing, especially as Turkish businessmen and truck drivers have won a series of cases in the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled a customs treaty Turkey signed with the European Union entitled Turkish businessmen to the right to visa-free travel.

Cohn Bendit says the European Union needs cooperation from Ankara if it is to stem illegal immigration. Turkey is a main transit country into the European Union for illegal migrants coming from Asia minor and Africa. 

Brussels is pressing Ankara to allow illegal migrants that enter the European Union through its territory to be sent back to Turkey.  Cohn Bendit says this Readmission Treaty is being billed as the price for Brussels easing restrictions.

"Turkey will sign a readmission program and Europe will ease the visa question," he said.

Cohn Bendit says a deal is expected to be reached early next year, but analysts say such horse trading will do little to ease feelings in Ankara that there is little goodwill left toward Turkey in Brussels.   

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid