Russia ‘unlikely’ to lift visa for Turkey soon due to Syrian refugees
Didem Atakan – MOSCOW
Russia will not lift the visa regime for Turkish nationals as long as Turkey continues to host 3.5 million to 4 million Syrians on its lands, Sergey Markov, a former advisor to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said.
Markov, who is also secretary general of the Turkish-Russian Public Forum, made the comments on Oct. 11 while addressing Turkish journalists at the Yunus Emre Institute in Moscow as part of the three-day-long SputnikPro event.
The secretary general said Turkey has been granting citizenship to Syrian refugees, which may pose a “threat” for Russia, should the country decide to lift the visa regime for Turkish nationals. He said there was a high chance of “radicalized Syrians” undertaking “terrorist activities” in Russia and the country’s security forces would not approve of a visa-free regime valid for all Turkish nationals.
“[Russian] Security forces are saying that as long as Turkey has 3.5 million to 4 million Syrians, there will not be a visa-free regime,” Markov said.
Similarly, Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky has said a visa-free regime with Turkey was not on Russia’s agenda soon.
“Refugees in Turkey are trying to cross to Europe. There are also radicalized refugees among them. And they are trying to cross [to Europe] through Russia as well,” Slutsky, chairperson of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, told Turkish journalists on Oct. 12.
Turkey hosts 3.56 million Syrian refugees, the highest number in the world, according to data from the country’s Interior Ministry.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.