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Turkey to abolish visas for UK tourists and five other European nationalities

Six countries will have visa-free access to Turkey [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 February, 2020

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Turkey is set to welcome six countries, including the UK and Poland, into its visa-free club as a move to open European borders.
In a bid for European diplomacy, Turkey has decided to offer visa-free travel to six more European countries, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Turkey will lift visa restrictions for tourists from Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK starting 2 March, spokesperson Hami Aksoy revealed.

Currently, British travellers must apply online for a permit to travel costing $35 (£27).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara announced: "As of 2 March 2020, Turkey has decided to exempt visa requirements for the members of the European Union Schengen area, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland as well as the United Kingdom citizens for touristic travels to Turkey for every 90 days within 180 day period.

"This step aims at increasing our tourism potential with these countries as well as further developing our trade, economic and cultural relations."

The Foreign Office says: "The Turkish government advise that your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date you enter Turkey and that there is a full blank page for the entry and exit stamps."

In 2018 Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik announced that Ankara has fulfilled all 72 requirements set by the European body to secure its citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, reported AP.

Turkish officials added that Ankara submitted all related documents to EU officials as part of the visa liberalisation process.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it would give "a new momentum to Turkish-EU relations".

Turkey's controversial Idlib operation

As Turkey appears to court Europe, it is also engaging in a proxy war with Russia in Idlib, Syria's last frontier.

Last week Turkey informed Russia that it completed preparations for a military operation in Idlib province and that troops were on ready to take on Syrian regime forces, Turkish state media reported at the time.

Omer Celik, spokesperson for governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Anadolu news agency that unless Moscow's ally, Bashar Al-Assad, withdraws his forces from areas recently taken from the opposition in Idlib province, then Turkish troops could take military action in Syria.

Read More: Syria Weekly: Turkey stands up to regime and Russia in Idlib

"Celik underlined that Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, was 'clearly' informed about Turkey's stance in the region," the Turkish news agency report.

He said that Turkish officials told Russia that Ankara was ready to take military action if the Syrian regime did not withdraw past boundaries specified in a previous de-escalation deal, likely referring to the 2018 Sochi agreement.

The Syrian regime launched a bloody assault on opposition areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces in December, ignoring a Russian-Turkish ceasefire.

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