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Europe tightens travel restrictions for Turkish citizens

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Germany has intensified immigration checks on special Turkish passports and has even started to deny entry to some of the holders, while Schengen visa applications lodged by Turkish citizens are encountering higher rejection rates, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Sunday.

The special passports, also referred to in Turkey as “green passports,” are issued to a select group of public officials and normally allow visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.

Germany now asks holders of special passports to meet certain criteria if they are not travelling on official business. These include proof of health insurance and return tickets as well as possession of 45 euros a day for the duration of the stay or a valid credit card.

Those who fail to meet the requirements not allowed into Germany and are immediately sent back to Turkey.

The new requirements were also announced on the official Facebook page of Turkey’s Consulate General in Düsseldorf.

“We advise our citizens who hold special passports to take precautions with regard to these issues,” the consulate said.

In response to a question by DW, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed that holding a special or diplomatic Turkish passport does not automatically allow for unhindered entrance to the Schengen zone under all circumstances.

While the holders benefit from a visa exemption in principle, they nevertheless need to be able to demonstrate their financial means to cover their stay and return, unless they are on official business, the ministry said.

DW also cited anonymous German government sources who expressed unease about the recent expansion in the scope of people who are granted special and diplomatic passports by the Turkish government.

The officials pointed out that the numbers surged after the adoption of a presidential system of governance in Turkey. The criteria implemented in issuing these passports are far from European standards.

On the other hand, EU statistics indicate a 10 percent decrease in Schengen visa applications made by Turkish citizens in 2018.

A total of 8.5 percent of all applications were rejected in 2018, almost double the 4.4 percent of 2017.

The EU extends visa exemptions to the citizens of 62 countries. Turkish citizens do not enjoy visa-free travel as Turkey’s EU accession talks have ground to a halt and the country has failed meet all the criteria that would ultimately allow for visa exemptions for Turkish citizens, part of a 2016 migrant deal with the EU.

According to SchengenViseInfo.com, Turkish citizens had to pay nearly €30 million for their visa applications last year.

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