World Bulletin / News Des
The Turkish Prime Minister has iterated the country's long-standing visa issues with the European Union on a visit to the Finnish capital Helsinki.
Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a business forum on Wednesday that Turkey had long deserved better treatment in visa relations as an EU membership candidate negotiating accession for nearly a decade.
Erdogan hailed good ties with Finland and praised the Nordic country's support for Turkey's EU bid, but said issues remain with the 28-member bloc at large.
"The EU has yet to remove the obstacle on visa exemption," he said, addressing a gathering of Turkish businessmen whom Erdogan said represented $100 billion of annual return and 300,000 jobs.
"Now Latin America nations are exempted, and they are not even remotely linked with the EU. What does Venezuela have to do with the EU? But they get visa exemption, and we don't, as a negotiating country. This saddens us."
Turkey got its half a century long EU membership ambitions to see the light of day in 2005 when it began full accession talks with the EU.
However, the process has proved less than smooth and concrete progress elusive, as nearly ten years on Turkey faces one third of the negotiating "chapters" or policy areas -- required to be successfully completed for membership -- currently blocked by member states, with the rest not even opened to talks.
"We carry on our march despite artificial hurdles," said Erdogan.
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen expressed pleasure at hosting the Turkish premier, celebrating Turkey's foundation day which was last week on Oct 29, and praising the Marmaray intercontinental railway project inaugurated on the same day.
"It would be a miracle for these talks and meetings not to yield results," Katainen said, referring to Erdogan’s visit and the almost 200-strong business delegation he brought with him.
"We must develop fresh business ties, and in this respect we have full confidence in you."
Turkey and Finland enjoy a trade volume of approximately $1.5 billion a year. More than 200,000 Finns visited Turkey last year, while Finland offered 1.4 million visas to Turkish nationals over the same period.
EU countries are home to 6-7 million Turks in total, with Germany featuring the largest Turkish minority with nearly 3 million.
Erdogan will continue his EU tour with a visit to Sweden.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Kasım 2013, 10:05