UK excluded from visa-free travel deal for Turkish citizens

Turkish citizens will still require visas for the UK despite agreement between EU and Turkey for visa-free travel to Europe.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, speaks at a news conference at a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels March 8, 2016.

Turkish citizens will still require visas for the UK despite an agreement between EU and Turkey at a recent summit in Brussels, British Minister for Europe David Lidington said Wednesday.

In remarks made at the House of Commons in London, Lidington said that since the UK is not a part of the Schengen agreement, Turkish citizens will still require a visa to enter.

"Because we are not members of the Schengen area, we are able to maintain our own border controls and make our own decisions on asylum. We will not be part of the process of liberalisation of visas, that would be a concern of Schengen countries," he said.

The minister added that the UK will also not resettle any more refugees.

"The agreement would not impose any new obligations on UK, in respect of either resettlement or relocation," he said.

"We are already resettling 20,000."

The UK, having taken only several hundred Syrian refugees, will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria until 2020.

Official statistics show that 252 people were resettled in the UK by the end of September 2015. On Dec. 16, 2015, the British premier announced that the government had met its commitment to resettle 1,000 Syrians before the end of the year.

Lidington said the UK has "agreed to pay £250 million [$355.76 million] share" of the 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) aid package for Turkey’s refugee program.

When asked about the UK's position on Turkey's accession to EU, he said the administration continues to support Turkey's membership but "that is not going to be happening in the near future."

When speaking about establishing safe havens inside Syria, Lidington said "the possibility was not ruled out."

"This point about safe havens, those are a possibility, the possibility was discussed in the EU- Turkey Summit but there are many political, legal and military complications to that particular step, so we have not ruled it out, but there is no agreement yet," he said.

The European Union leaders agreed on a wide range of proposals by Turkey to solve the migration crisis, including the return of all irregular migrants back to Turkey, accelerating the visa liberalisation process for Turkish citizens and sharing the work of hosting Syrian refugees.

Ankara has requested visa-free travel for its citizens by the end of June and an additional 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to meet the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

TRTWorld, AA