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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid