EU Decides Against Visa Validation at E. Aegean Island Ports
Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos has informed MPs from the Eastern Aegean Region that the European Commission will not approve of visa validation at island ports.
Katrougalos, who is responsible for European affairs, sent a letter referring to a visa facilitation pilot program that allows non-European Union citizens from Turkish ports to visit selected Greek islands in the eastern Aegean without a visa from a Greek consulate.
The aim of the scheme, which benefitted both sides, was to strengthen Greek tourism by facilitating travel for thousands of Turkish travelers, who instead of applying for a visa – a time-consuming procedure – at the Greek consulates received a short-term visa at the island ports for a fee.
Katrougalos said the EC’s decision was made “despite the Greek foreign ministry’s efforts and continuous interventions”. To address the impact of the Commission’s decision, Minister Katrougalos added that the Foreign Ministry has boosted staff at Greek Consular offices in Turkey as well as worked towards improving the visa procedure in order to facilitate travel for Turkish travelers to Greece.