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Turkish businesspeople want an ease in visa requirements

Turkish businesspeople have called for an easing of visa requirements from the consulate generals of 37 countries, in order to foster economic and trade relations with those countries, in a press meeting hosted by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ISO) on Nov. 3.

The ISO representatives voiced their demands to countries from the United States to China, Brazil and the EU, and specifically addressed European envoys during their meeting with members of the Istanbul Consular Corps (ICC)

“We see the potential membership of Turkey to the EU as the most crucial modernization project of our country by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of our republic. Turkey has made many efforts to become an EU member for the last 50 years, but the EU’s approach here disappoints Turkey, causing a decline in the commitment of Turkish public and business circles about the membership process,” said ISO head Erdal Bahçıvan.

Bahçıvan said Turkey could make significant contributions to develop many sectors in Europe if visa requirements were loosened. He also noted that Turkish businesspeople have complied with the requirements of the Customs Union for 18 years, but they suffer from the heavy visa requirements that they face.

“This constitutes the biggest obstacle in developing mutual economic and trade relations between Turkey and the EU. It is an unacceptable obstacle for us, Turkish businesspeople, not to be able to move freely in the EU in the framework of the Customs Union deal, although our products are without any restrictions in these countries, with which we conduct almost half of our trade,” he said, adding that they found the latest memorandum of understanding on easing visa requirements with the EU in December 2013 “very promising.”

The EU and Turkey reached an accord aimed at eliminating visa requirements for Turks within three years last year. In exchange, Ankara agreed to receive back illegal migrants who transited through Turkey before arriving in the EU.

“Turkish industrialists who mainly visit Europe should be given visas more easily and they should be granted multiple entry visas over longer time frames during this three-year transition period,” Bahçıvan said.

The ISO head stressed that Turkey will face bigger problems economically if it is excluded from the planned transatlantic trade deal between the EU and the U.S.