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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora