Legally and politically baseless visa implementation for Turkey

, by Efehan Danisman

Legally and politically baseless visa implementation for Turkey
Flag of Turkey Credit © European Union, 2011

Getting acceptance or invitation for a conference, program, fair or workshop in Schengen area means nothing unless you get a visa after a painful process in Turkey. You may be rejected even though you have prepared all your documents to the related embassy or consulate which including your private data such as your bank accounts and assets of your family.

Your process is starting by researching about how to apply. Since there is not any standard procedure, some Schengen countries only accept application by appointment while some not. For example, if you want to apply for a Schengen visa from Germany, you have to take an appointment at least one month before your real application. When you consider the necessary time for having original copy of invitation letter which is sine qua non for application, it means you need to be accepted for an event at least 1.5-2 month before. On the other hand, if you want to get a Schengen visa from Spain, you need to wait from early morning in a long queue for hours.

Last year, I accepted for an event in Germany. Organization team was working pretty slowly and they sent invitation letter quite lately. I had the original copy of invitation around 10 days before the event. However, German consulate did not give me an appointment before a month due to high workload. Hence, I could not participate. This may be a small incident, however when you think these cases in terms of businessmen, scholars, musicians and artists you can not imagine losses of prestige, time and income for the both side.

In the first part of this article, I tried to show getting a visa is how painful for citizens of Turkey. Now I will show my arguments to show baseless visa implementation vis-a vis Turkey.

First of all, Turkey is member of Western alliances such as NATO, Council of Europe and OECD since their first years. EU journey of Turkey started at 1963 with Ankara Agreement at the same time with Greece. Moreover she is part of Customs Union with EU since 1996. A country which has such a long and intimate relationship with EU should not need visa anymore in my view.

According to the Article 36-Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement which signed in 1973, even freedom of movement should be provided by both sides between 12th and 22th years of the Ankara Agreement. This means after 1986, Turkish citizens should have freedom of movement rights rather than visa free travel. There are different cases regarding visa issues which Turkish side won with using arguments above such as Soysal case in ECJ, Dutch and German courts. Readers interested with details could check these cases.

There are also arguments against fears of European citizens for Turks visa free travel. According to the recent survey of the Gallup shows that 70% of the young Turkish people are against working in one of the EU countries. Moreover, Turkey is becoming more prosperous day by day with fastest growth rate in Europe. Euro-zone crisis which creates high tension between member states did not reach to the Turkey.

As a pro-EU person, whenever I need to get a visa I feel nervous about how to get it although always had it. However, implementation of visa brings alienation to Turkish people against Europe and European identity. Painful application process and baseless implementation are most important motivations for alienation from Europe. Since Turkey is a candidate country even though some countries do not like even this status, there should be more initiatives for Europeanization of the Turkish citizens. Visa free travel could be one of the most important dimensions of this process.

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