Turkish President Gül slams EU visa policy for Turkey

Turkish President Gül slams EU visa policy for Turkey

VILNIUS - Anatolia News Agency
Turkish President Gül slams EU visa policy for Turkey

Turkish head of state Abdullah Gül (L) continues his tour of the Baltics, meeting Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite during a visit to Vilnius. AA photo

Turkish President Abdullah Gül criticized yesterday the European Union over its slow visa procedures during a speech at the Lithuania-Turkey Business Forum in Vilnius.

The EU has fallen short in failing to sign a visa exemption agreement with Turkey, particularly as it has been signing such agreements with states that have not even started membership negotiations, Gül said.

“Visa procedures unfortunately take too long and this is a big injustice. What we request from Lithuanian officials, primarily from President Dalia Grybauskaite, is to discuss in meetings, which Turkey doesn’t attend, that this is not fair and to take steps that we expect,” Gül said.

“It is a shortcoming for the EU not to sign a visa exemption agreement with a big economy like Turkey while signing it with Brazil, which is a Latin American country, and with countries which haven’t even started membership negotiations,” Gül said.

The Turkish president also expressed Turkish businesspeople’s problems regarding the EU’s visa policy. Turkey is a member of the Customs Union and while Turkish goods can freely circulate in the area, their producers and owners cannot, he said.

Gül also expressed his expectations about Turkey’s accession to the EU, underlining that Vilnius would become the EU rotating president in three months’ time. “We want this to be never forgotten that one of the core principals of the EU is pacta sund servada [agreements must be kept].”

“In 2005, the European Union members’ presidents and prime ministers started Turkey’s full membership negotiation process. For sure, it is our right to expect all member states to show loyalty to their signatures,” he said.

For her part, Grybauskaite expressed Lithuania’s strong support for Turkey’s EU membership.

“We are ready to do all we can in order to support Turkey’s membership negotiations during Lithuania’s rotating presidency. Closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey, progress in accession negotiations and the implementation of visa exemption are in line with the interests of both the Lithuanian and Turkish people, as well as the EU,” she said.

Gül also invited Lithuanian businesspeople to invest in Turkey, highlighting the country’s economic data. “The potential is big. It is up to you to benefit from this opportunity,” he said.

New chapters to be opened

Following the business forum, Gül told reporters that he deemed Vilnius’ assumption of the rotating presidency “an extraordinary development,” suggesting that some EU chapters could be opened in the
following period.

“I am glad to see that both countries shared their strong support to Turkey’s EU membership process with the public without any hesitation. They said some chapters would be opened during Lithuania’s presidency. We are waiting,” he said.