Turkey: No change in visa-regime with Syria, ‘open door policy’ goes on

Turkey: No change in visa-regime with Syria, ‘open door policy’ goes on

Emine Kart - ANKARA
Turkey: No change in visa-regime with Syria, ‘open door policy’ goes on

A Syrian child fleeing the war is lifted over border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015. AFP Photo

Turkish officials have strictly ruled out reports suggesting that the country would start imposing visa requirements on Syrians trying to enter the country, underlining that Turkey “open-door policy” for Syrians is still valid.

Yet, Turkey needed to apply stricter security checks for Syrians entering Turkey, especially at airports, a senior Turkish official, nonetheless, told Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 18.

“A change in visa-regime and open door policy for Syrians is out of question,” the Turkish official, who requested anonymity, said. 

“There is a significant increase in Syrian population who try to reach Turkey by travelling from third countries, especially from Egypt and Lebanon. Among those Syrians, there are also fake passport holders,” the official said, noting that additionally, there are Syrians who travel to Turkey not for basic humanitarian concerns, but for economic reasons.

“Measures are in place for dealing with this issue,” he added, indicating that those measures were related to address possible security threats stemming from third countries.”

As of Dec. 17, Syrian Foreign Ministry said it would begin requiring visas from Turks entering the country, reversing a six-year agreement with Ankara that allowed visa-free entry to citizens of both countries, in response to a decision taken by Turkey on December 9, but it did not elaborate.

“The Syrian government, in virtue of the principles of reciprocity and national sovereignty, decided to refuse entry to Syria for Turkish citizens without visas,” a ministry statement published by state news agency SANA said.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry told AFP there was “not a single change in the visa policies for Syrians”, who are allowed to remain in Turkey visa-free for stays up to 90 days within a six-month period.