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UK ambassador discusses expat issues in Marmaris and Fethiye

MARMARİS/FETHİYE – Hürriyet Daily News | 5/31/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The British ambassador visits southern towns Marmaris and Fethiye and discusses several issues concerning the expat community.

In a warning to those considering buying property in southern Turkey, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Turkey has said the British embassy is unable to aid citizens that encounter problems during property transactions.

Speaking during a visit to the southern coastal towns of Marmaris and Fethiye where British expatriates live, Ambassador David Reddaway said U.K. citizens should seek local legal advice before buying property in Turkey.

Appointed as the U.K. ambassador to Turkey in 2009, Reddaway traveled to the south coast to meet with the mayors of Marmaris and Fethiye, Honorary Consuls Doğan Tugay and Mustafa Şıkman, consular staff, British tour operators and the local media and English language press.

Tugay accompanied the ambassador, and while there they discussed the problems U.K. nationals have been experiencing with real estate purchases, and some of the negative press Marmaris has been receiving in U.K. tabloids as a result.

With tourism, the ambassador said a lot of his work involved “problem prevention and resolution” and trying to make sure that any potential problems are addressed.

Local sources suggest that up to 20 percent more tourists are planning to visit this year.

During the visit, the ambassador asked Marmaris Mayor Ali Acar about some of the problems foreign nationals face when buying real estate.

The mayor highlighted the importance of getting sufficient correct information from the official institutions before proceeding.

“We hear that most of the trouble sales are sourced from illegal sales. The buyers must stop buying properties from illegal salesmen out of the property sector, such as waiters. There are enough legal real estate agents and the procedure of buying a property is clear,” he said.

“Or, at least before the sale, foreigners can come and get advice from the honorary consulates or the municipality. We can help at the beginning by giving detailed information, but after the sales have been completed or gone wrong, most of the cases end up in the courts.”

The Turkish government is made aware of these problems by the embassy in Ankara but individuals must resolve their property problems through the appropriate legal framework. The embassy website contains advice that people should study before buying property in Turkey.

Another important issue of the meeting was the negative summer stories in the British tabloid press. The ambassador, the mayor and the honorary consulate shared their ideas to increase cultural and social relations between Marmaris and British towns and cities as an aid in learning about each other’s cultures.

[HH] Documents

In Fethiye, the panoramic views from the Kale Park restaurant provided a spectacular backdrop for a pleasantly informal meeting with the ambassador, the honorary consul, Mustafa Şıkman, and the consular staff. The first subject discussed was that of the new regulations for British nationals needing to renew passports. From June 15, this will now take longer – up to 21 working days – because although the processing time is likely to remain the same, the documentation will now have to be couriered to Germany, where passport issuing for Europe has been centralized.

Reddaway said this should be taken into account when passports are due to expire. “The most sensible thing to do is to get the passport renewed at least two months before it expires, because that allows plenty of time and the uninterrupted validity is added to the new document.”

Apart from the additional cost of sending the documents by courier (and that depends on where they are being sent from) the process and charging remain unchanged. For full details and information, visit www.ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk.

Reddaway also said the British authorities were constantly trying to find ways of improving the visa service offered to Turkish nationals, but added that he did not foresee the U.K. lifting visa requirements in the near future.

Medical care is important for all expats but particularly so for pensioners who have chosen to live in Turkey. It is accepted that circumstances can change but as all countries are now looking to rationalize services, for economic reasons, how this will affect foreign nationals in Turkey is yet to be decided.

For foreign residents, the death of a partner while in Turkey is another potential problem. While this is covered by Turkish law, it differs considerably from U.K. inheritance legislation. The ambassador agreed to explore whether or not it is possible to clarify the situation to help British citizens.

The subject then moved on to the thorny subject of residency permits. It is still cheaper to live here on a tourist visa than to have a formal residence permit although this is becoming increasingly unsatisfactory, especially as now getting a landline or buying and selling vehicles requires formal registration.

Reddaway said he had lived in several different countries throughout his diplomatic career. Experience has taught him that, “the more you put into your life in a foreign country the more you get out of it. You can get a lot of credit for making the effort; and learning to understand the local culture is fundamental.” From the windy heights above Fethiye he then traveled down into the town to meet the Mayor, Behçet Saatçi. The Ambassador thanked Mayor Saatçi for his hospitality, both to him and the British community. He was then presented with an authentic Kaya Carpet – famous in this region for the skilful weaving and use of natural root and vegetable dyes.

Mayor Saatçi told the Ambassador how much the British are integrated into the local community and in particular the work done by the Çalış Carnival and Fethiye International Group: two local charitable organization that raise money to help children. “The British residents of Fethiye are an active part of our community now,” he said.

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