US visa row costs Turkey 50 billion liras: CHP leader

US visa row costs Turkey 50 billion liras: CHP leader

Deniz Zeyrek - ANKARA
US visa row costs Turkey 50 billion liras: CHP leader

The U.S. move to suspend visa processes for all non-immigrants in Turkey is a “very harsh” decision, which will have a cost of 50 billion Turkish Liras, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.

“Turkish-American relations should be revised and restored by reasonable politics because Turkey has a relationship with the United States, as well as with numerous international organizations the U.S. is a part of,” Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of journalists in Turkish parliament on Oct. 10.

“The visa decision is a heavy decision. It cost us 50 billion Turkish Liras with the fall of the stock market and rise in foreign exchange,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding Turkey would also lose from a drop in Turkish Airlines flights.

The rift will also result in a drop in the number of tourists from the U.S., he added.

The CHP leader said Ankara should engage in “backchannel diplomacy” to solve the problem.

“The process has not been managed well, it has not been managed at all,” he said.

He added Turkey could have informed U.S. officials when detaining a U.S. consulate officer, which marked the start of the crisis.

“The person who was taken into custody may be from the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] or have relations to it. You should have told them you would take that person into custody,” he said.

Escalated tensions had also stemmed from the current state of justice in Turkey and “mistrust had been in the foreground of relations with the U.S.,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

He also added Ankara’s discomfort “stems from the case on Reza Zarrab,” referring to the Iranian businessman who is in jail in the U.S. for breaching the U.S. embargo on Iran.


CHP lawmaker’s imprisonment

Kılıçdaroğlu said he was surprised by the divisional court’s ruling to reverse the local court’s decision on CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu’s 25-year sentence, however ruling on his imprisonment to continue during the trial process.

“There is a contradiction there. The divisional court should have released him. But as far as I understand, it decided to reverse the ruling and transferred the decision to the lower court because they were afraid of political pressure,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

While Berberoğlu had been sentenced for “leaking state secrets” in a case on weapons-loaded trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) headed for Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu said there were “many documents revealing the incident.”