Israel to ease visas for Turkish businesspeople
ISTANBULIsrael will provide Turkish business leaders with longer visas to the country in the future, according to Israel’s consul general to Istanbul, Shai Cohen.
“For example, if one of you is involved in a visa application, it will be a three-year, multi-entry visa type,” Cohen said Feb. 21 at the Turkey-Israel Business Forum organized by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM).
“The visa application will be a multi-entry visa type, so you will be able to travel for an unlimited number of times to Israel if you wish,” he said. “We have already begun to work on facilitating the procedures for businessmen to come to Israel.”
TİM discussed the improvement in mutual ties between the two countries following a normalization process.
Cohen said they had witnessed a great change in mutual relations and that they had begun to see the effects of the reconciliation process on all stakeholders.
“Experts say that our trading potential is $8 billion, while the current figure is about $4 million to 5 billion,” he said, setting a three-year target to reach the goal.
Turkish Airlines currently operates 10 to 12 flights to Tel Aviv per day, while Israeli businesspeople also fly to different destinations with the Turkish national carrier.
Cohen also said he would discuss non-tariff barriers faced in the fruit and vegetable trade with Israeli officials and inform Turkish businessmen on the matter as soon as possible.
TİM Chairman Mehmet Büyükekşi said the business group aimed to reach 71,000 exporters this year and that its members provided employment to 3.1 million people.
TİM aims to increase the employment figure to 3.5 million by the end of the year, he said.
Turkey’s exports to Israel reached $3 billion dollars as imports have touched $1.4 billion in the last 10 years, the business leader noted.
Noting that the figures were insufficient, Büyükekşi said he believed that the two countries had much greater potential.
Büyükekşi said the goals were not limited to mutual trade and that TİM wanted to build a system in which the two sides could win together in third countries, especially in Africa.
Commenting on tourism ties, Büyükekşi said 300,000 people from Israel visited Turkey last year. “We want to increase the target to 400,000 this year.”
Israel is the country with the most female entrepreneurs, Büyükekşi also said. “We attach great importance to entrepreneurship. I hope we will do important work on entrepreneurship in Israel.”
A large Turkish commerce delegation will visit Israel from May 15 to 17.
Turkey-Israel ties are in a phase of reconciliation after putting an end to a dispute that emerged on May 31, 2010, when Israeli commandoes raided a Gaza-bound flotilla, killing a total of 10 Turkish citizens onboard.
Discussions in 2015 and 2016 resulted in a rapprochement in mid-2016.
Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı requested that Israel downgrade the security warning it issued for Turkey earlier, when he visited his Israeli counterpart, Yariv Levin, on Feb. 7, becoming the first member of the Turkish cabinet to visit Israel since 2010.
However, the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory remains a bone of contention between the two countries.