People, Travel

Turkey Denies End of Visa-Free Regime

Turkey Denies End of Visa-Free RegimeTurkey Denies End of Visa-Free Regime

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday denied reports claiming that Ankara is preparing to introduce visas for citizens of 89 countries that currently enjoy visa-free travel to Turkey.

The report, published on the BBC Turkish website service on Friday, said Turkey would abolish the current visa-free regime with countries including Russia and Iran as of June 1 to harmonize its visa policies with those of the EU as part of a deal between Ankara and the EU to curb illegal immigration through Turkey to Europe, local media reported.

The deal, which offered Turkey €3 billion to improve facilities for Syrian refugees and to take preventive measures against migration to Europe, also pledged to speed up the process for visa-free travel to EU countries for Turks, according to FTN News.

“Reports in the media that our country will start implementing visa requirements for 89 countries as of June 1 are false,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that Turkey will be obligated to align its visa policies with those of the EU only after it becomes a full member of the bloc.

Talks on allowing Turkish nationals to travel to EU countries without having to obtain a Schengen visa first are still ongoing, the statement added, referring to the negotiations as part of the refugee deal with the EU, Today’s Zaman reported.

Turkey has lifted visa requirements for citizens of a number of countries to promote business ties and tourism, including Iran.