Turkish PM Yıldırım pushes for visa-free EU travel
ANKARAVisa-free travel for Turkish citizens to Europe would make a big contribution to improving bilateral relations between Ankara and Budapest, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said during a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Victor Orban in Ankara
“Turkey is the only country that is engaged in negotiations on full membership to the EU without having a visa exemption to European countries. I think this is a mistake of the EU,” Yıldırım said on June 30 at a Turkey-Hungary Business Forum at Ankara, as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban was paying an official visit to Turkey to hold several meetings.
“Europe, which implements visa exemption to some countries that have not even started negotiations, is continuing to present an obstacle to Turkey, which has been negotiating for full membership for over 40 years,” Yıldırım said.
Noting that business opportunities for Hungarian and Turkish entrepreneurs have been raised over the last four years, he said visa procedures still “pose an obstacle.”
“We need to ease visa procedures, primarily for business people,” Yıldırım said, calling on Orban to take steps to make visa facilitation.
“It is not enough that connections via airways and highways are convenient. There should also be measures that ease people’s travel opportunities. Of course, things like the European Union and Schengen regime are understandable, but if we want to improve bilateral relations we must take visa facilitations into account. Businesspeople in particular have a big need for this,” he added.
After presiding over a Turkey-Hungary High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting, the two prime ministers held a press conference after a one-hour private meeting.
“The EU, especially after Brexit, should make a re-assessment. It should set forth its future vision clearly and set aside its confusion. That is what we recommend. Turkey sincerely wants to be the member of the union,” Yıldırım stated.
“There is a great benefit for the EU to move faster on this issue,” he added, noting “its likelihood has become ever more questionable as this process is prolonged.”
Orban: ‘Europe needs Turkey’
For his part, in a press conference after the meeting Orban expressed Hungary’s support for Turkey’s EU membership.
“Europe needs Turkey. If a negotiation has started, it should be continued within a respectable manner,” Orban said.
“We definitely do not support suspension or freezing. Europe needs a big agreement with Turkey. We are supporting all negotiations with Turkey,” he added.
Stating that Turkey has played a big role in the refugee crisis, Orban said Hungary conveys its “appreciation and respect.”
“Turkey protects not just Hungary but the whole of Europe. Everybody should be aware of that,” he added.
In their meetings, the two countries signed five different memorandums of understanding and agreements covering culture, forestry, water works, youth issues and sports.