Turkey to abolish visas for Greek Cypriots as part of EU deal
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, looks on as European Union Council President Donald Tusk, talks during a joint news conference in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Saturday, April 23, 2016 - AP photoGreek Cypriots will no longer require visas to visit Turkey under an EU-Turkey agreement on visa liberalization, however this does not amount to Turkish recognition of Cyprus, a Turkish official has said.
Turkey’s cabinet approved waiving visas for EU citizens once Europe relaxes its own visa requirements for Turks, according to a decision published in Turkey’s Official Gazette on May 3, only a day before the EU’s executive arm presents its third visa-liberalization progress report.
The move is one of the 72 criteria required by Brussels for Turkey for the visa liberalization.
One of the biggest obstacles in Turkey’s relations with the European Union is Ankara’s refusal to recognize EU member Greek Cyprus.
The Turkish official confirmed on May 3 Ankara’s relaxation of visa requirements for EU citizens would also apply to Greek Cypriots.
“This doesn’t mean the recognition of Cyprus. If the EU abolishes visas for Turkish citizens, then we will also abolish visas for the remaining EU countries,” the official said.
“Right now, Greek Cypriots can already travel to Turkey, but we are issuing their visa on a separate paper. With this new arrangement they won’t need a visa.” Accordingly, Turkish citizens will also be able to enter Greek Cyprus provided that they do not transit from Turkish Cyprus.