Well that escalated quickly, to put it mildly. Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, so they’re a popular option for Americans, even if many prefer not to visit Turkey at the moment over safety concerns. Even if you only intend to transit a country, there’s something nice about knowing that you’d be able to enter the country easily in case your flight was canceled, etc.
Well, in the case of Turkey, that just became significantly more difficult. A worker at the US consulate in Istanbul was arrested over suspicions of being linked to a cleric blamed for last year’s failed coup. The US didn’t appreciate this, and issued the following statement:
Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission and personnel. In order to minimise the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey.
With the US suspending non-immigration visa services in Turkey while they “assess” the situation, Turkey responded in kind, with the following statement:
Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission and personnel. In order to minimise the number of the visitors to our diplomatic and consular missions in the US while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the US citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the US. This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-visas and border visas.
So Americans are no longer eligible for sticker visas or e-visas. As far as I know, this means that Americans can’t practically visit Turkey anymore, at least for those who don’t have existing visas (which should be honored).
Without getting into the actual merit of either side’s case here (since I really don’t know enough about this, other than what I’ve read in a few news stories), I don’t think there’s any denying that Turkey’s statement is incredibly childish. It’s one thing if they decided to have a reciprocal policy, but literally copying and pasting the statement of the US seems… low.
I’m curious to see how this plays out. Again, I get the concept of reciprocity, but you’d think at this point Turkey would want all the visitors they can get, given the huge drop in inbound tourists to Turkey. Furthermore, even for those not intending to enter Turkey, I imagine this will make a lot of people uncomfortable. So many people have safety concerns about flying Turkish (which I think are largely unwarranted, but the sentiment is out there), and the hostile relations here certainly won’t help in easing peoples’ fears.
Reuters reports the immediate impact this has had in Turkey — the Turkish Lira dropped 2.4%, the stock index fell as much a 4.7%, and Turkish Airlines shares fell 8%.
I’m curious to see how long this situation lasts.
What do you make of this immigration dispute between the US and Turkey?