EU decides against visa validation at Turkish ports for Greek islands: Report
ATHENSGreece’s Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos has told deputies from the country’s Eastern Aegean Region that the European Commission will not approve of visa validation at island ports, Greek media reported on Feb. 8.
Katrougalos, who is the Greek minister responsible for European affairs, sent a letter referring to a visa facilitation pilot program that allows non-EU citizens from Turkish ports to visit selected Greek islands in the east Aegean without a visa from a Greek consulate, according to the report from Greek Travel Pages.
The aim of the scheme was to strengthen Greek tourism by facilitating travel for thousands of Turkish travelers, who rather than going through the time-consuming procedure of applying for a visa at Greek consulates would have been able to receive a short-term visa at the island ports for a fee according to the scheme.
The decision was severely criticized by the tourism representatives from the both sides of the Aegean Sea.
Katrougalos said the European Commission’s decision was made “despite the Greek Foreign Ministry’s efforts and continuous interventions.”
To address the impact of the Commission’s decision, Katrougalos added that the Foreign Ministry had boosted staff at Greek consular offices in Turkey, as well as worked towards improving the visa procedure to facilitate travel for Turkish travelers to Greece, the report stated.