EU visa restrictions on Türkiye undermine European democracy

Recently, there has been a noticeable slowdown from European Union countries in issuing visas to Turkish citizens, with reasons ranging from political considerations to other factors.

Indeed, during discussions between the EU and Türkiye regarding the migrant issue, an agreement was reached. According to the readmission agreement, Türkiye committed to implementing measures to prevent migrants from crossing into Europe, while European states would reciprocate by granting visa liberalization to Turkish citizens. Turkish citizens would gain the right to move around in European countries for three months, and they would return home. It would not be a residing or working right.

The slowdown of European countries in processing visas complicates ongoing negotiation processes between Türkiye and the EU while also casting doubt on the prospects for future negotiations.

The European Union’s reluctance to grant visa liberalization was tied to demands for amendments to Türkiye’s counterterrorism legislation, seeking a more tolerant approach.

The visa liberalization agreement coincided with a period when Türkiye was experiencing security problems and was being harmed by terrorist organizations. In other words, at a time when Daesh, the PKK terrorist organization and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were attacking Türkiye simultaneously. Of course, Türkiye did not have the chance to show flexibility in the fight against terrorism.

The slowdown in issuing visas started during this period in European countries such as Spain, France, Germany and Italy, and especially in the United Kingdom, which is no longer a European Union country.

Türkiye’s spending potential

Despite being the 17th largest economy globally, Türkiye ranks 10th in terms of spending habits. The Turkish community boasts significant potential for expenditure and travel. From the perspective of European countries, although people in Türkiye are seen as a mass of people who go to Europe, settle down, stay there and do not want to return, Türkiye is perhaps a larger country in terms of spending capacity and economic power than most European countries.

European countries may perceive Turkish citizens as a demographic seeking permanent settlement in Europe despite Türkiye’s substantial spending capacity and economic prowess, surpassing that of many European nations. There are countries in Europe with a population of 3 million to 4 million. For instance, Türkiye’s Group A and A+ socioeconomic demographic alone may outnumber the entire population of Belgium.



The European states have established rules, promoted democracy and ensured all their actions within this democratic context are bound by the law.

From the Enlightenment philosophy to the present-day legal structure, EU member states are driven to anchor their legal frameworks in principles of justification, negotiation and factual accuracy. Consequently, European states uphold this rational approach in their treatment of their own citizens. However, they do not consistently apply the same legal standards to Turkish citizens. Often, especially in Germany, visa rejections are issued without clear explanations or rational reasons provided.

Intermittent discussions

Discussions between Türkiye and European countries persist intermittently regarding this matter. Despite occasional relaxations on visa restrictions, a stable foundation for European-Turkish relations and travel for Turkish citizens to Europe has yet to be established.

In my opinion, European states’ visa restrictions on Türkiye undermine the rational coherence of European democracy and contradict positions associated with the traditions of science and the European Enlightenment.

Imperial pride is not easy to cure. Despite European countries no longer holding the same sway in global politics, they seem reluctant to relinquish the arrogance built over two centuries. However, they must shed this imperial pride lest they one day confront the sobering reality of their diminished influence. Therefore, I believe that facilitating visa processes for countries like Türkiye, with its economically vibrant citizens, robust travel capabilities and affluent investors would benefit Europe more than it would Türkiye.

Source: Daily Sabah

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