Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to settle the continued difficulties experienced by Turkish citizens in acquiring visas to the European Union and its member states, calling it “political blackmail”.
In his address to the 79th general assembly of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkiye in the capital, Ankara, yesterday, Erdogan stated that “We will settle the visa problem, which has been used as political blackmail recently, as soon as possible.”
Türkiye's President Erdogan:
– Our goal is to establish a belt of security & peace from Europe to Black Sea, from Caucasus & Middle East to North Africa
– We'll settle EU visa problem, which was used as form of political blackmail, as soon as possiblepic.twitter.com/80cXymicU8
— TRT Afrika (@trtafrika) May 30, 2023
In recent years, Turks have increasingly been facing significant difficulties in acquiring EU visas, with their applications subject to enormous scrutiny and having to wait for months for an appointment date for approval. Applications are often denied or, at least, required to consist of stacks of paperwork and documents in order to gain a mere tourist visa to enter the bloc.
Despite the Turkish government having provided EU states’ citizens easier access to enter Turkiye by exempting them from visa requirements as of 2020, the bloc and its members have not reciprocated that move but have, instead, maintained and increased their scrutiny of Turks’ visa applications in what many in the country see as humiliation.
Although the EU has not officially acknowledged its discriminatory dealings with Turkish citizens’ visa applications or the reasoning behind it, many believe that the bloc is using the issue as punishment or leverage to force Ankara to reform its domestic and foreign policy initiatives.
In his address, which was made following his re-election in the landmark Turkish elections during the country’s centenary, Erdogan also assured the assembly and Turkish population that “We are strictly committed to our policy of not allowing our citizens to be crushed by inflation. We have not made any concessions on this issue throughout our 21 years in power.”