Update: Turkey and the United States Resume Visa Services to Citizens of Each Country

Reciprocal restrictions on visas for citizens of the United States to enter Turkey and for citizens of Turkey to enter the United States — which had been in effect for almost three months and have adversely affected thousands of travelers — have ended, according to announcements from both countries on Thursday, December 28, 2017.

Update: Turkey and the United States Resume Visa Services to Citizens of Each Country

According to this notice pertaining to the full resumption of visa services in Turkey from the Department of State of the United States:

Since October, the government of Turkey has adhered to the high-level assurances it provided to the United States that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation, that local staff of our Embassy and consulates will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties — including communicating with Turkish officials also working in an official capacity — and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. Government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest any member of our local staff in the future.

Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey. We continue to have serious concerns about the existing allegations against arrested local employees of our Mission in Turkey. We are also concerned about the cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency. U.S. officials will continue to engage with their Turkish counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution to these cases.

The announcements do not necessarily mean that tensions between the two countries have been eliminated. Officials from Turkey disputed the aforementioned notice of how the crisis was resolved.

What Precipitated the Reciprocal Restrictions on Visas

The arrest of Metin Topuz — a liaison officer of the United States Consulate General who was accused of charges of attempting to disrupt constitutional order; espionage; and attempting to eradicate the Turkish government by allegedly assisting followers of Fethullah Gülen to escape Turkey — by officials of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan triggered the significant escalation of the disintegrating relations between Turkey and the United States when a statement from the Embassy of the United States declared that visa applications from Turkey were halted for an indefinite period as a result.

The government of Turkey almost immediately announced similar suspensions of issuing visa applications from the United States — which appeared to be a retaliatory response — and was still attempting to extradite Fethullah Gülen from his home in Pennsylvania.

Gülen — who is currently legally based in the United States — is accused by the Turkish government of being a key player in the failed attempt of a coup d’état on Friday, July 15, 2016 when members of the Turkish military forces closed two bridges over the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul as fighter jet airplanes were seen flying over Istanbul and Ankara.

Flights were diverted to destinations such as Sofia and Beirut because Istanbul Atatürk Airport was temporarily closed due to the violence which resulted from the attempt by military forces to overthrow the government and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is the current president of Turkey. All airline carriers — regardless of country of registry — were temporarily prohibited from flying between the United States and Turkey either directly or via a third country as part of the fallout. Roads were also closed to traffic.

The prohibition was not lifted by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States until Tuesday, July 19, 2016 — but the damage had already been done, as some people expressed hesitation about flying as passengers between the two countries.

At least 300 fatalities were confirmed — greater than 100 were involved in the plotting of the coup d’état — as well as greater than 2,100 people were reported injured.

Summary

That the issuance of visa services has resumed in the United States and Turkey for citizens of each country is good news. I personally would not hesitate to visit Turkey; and I had actually considering doing so last year…

…and if you are a traveler who is conscious about budget, lodging can be a real deal in Turkey. For example, you can secure a room at the new Hilton Garden Inn Kocaeli Sekerpinar hotel property for a total of €43.74 — that is including all taxes and fees — when you take advantage of this winter sale and check in on Monday, January 8, 2018 for one night.

Most likely, nothing will happen to you if you do decide to visit Turkey — but ensure that you stay alert and take care while you are there.

Imagery ©2016 TerraMetrics. Map data ©2016 courtesy of Google Maps.


 

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