KIRIKKALE – Anadolu Agency
Turkish authorities have begun the distribution of new biometric identity cards in the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale, which was selected as the pilot province for the program.
The new “smart” cards, which contain chips, will replace the old versions, which were bigger and contained no information beyond the basic facts printed on them.
It is the sixth change in the country’s national ID system since its foundation.
This month a European Commission progress report on Turkey fulfilling the requirements of the EU’s visa liberalization roadmap praised the new biometric cards.
The new biometric system will end the present different-colored card system - pink for women and blue for men - which Turks have been using for almost 40 years.
Governor Ali Kola applied for the new identity card on March 14 and received it on March 22, just over a week later, his office announced.
Biometric cards contain tight security standards to hinder duplication, falsification, and forgery.
According to the Electronic Authentication System’s website, the biometric cards will be able to hold up to 1 GB of information, including the user’s finger and palm prints.
The new cards will be valid for 10 years.
The move comes as Turkey is working to fulfill EU requirements toward lifting the visa regime with the Schengen zone countries.
Turkey must fulfill 72 requirements in the visa roadmap, including issues such as migration management, public order, and security and issuing biometric identification documents - passports and IDs - containing fingerprints.
So far, 37 requirements have been completed and 35 still remain.
Turkey will also renew passport issued to its citizens.
A Turkish delegation visited Brussels last December to inform the EU Commission about ongoing work for the renewal of biometric passports and listened to advice from their counterparts. The officials said Turkey had already purchased printing machines for the biometric passports and the printing process was expected to start this month. The new passport will be the same color and shape as the current form.
Visa-free travel is part of a broad agreement between Turkey and EU on the refugee crisis signed on March 18 in Brussels.
According to the deal, Turkey will take back migrants making the illegal crossing of the Aegean Sea to Greece
as of March 20. The returns will begin to take place on April 4 at the earliest.
For every Syrian sent back, the European Union
will resettle one Syrian from Turkish refugee camps, where 2.7 million people are currently residing.
The deal, reached at an EU-Turkey summit, aims to cut off a route which enabled 850,000 people to pour into Europe
last year, many of them fleeing conflict in Syria.