Turkey continues relaxed visa regime for Egyptians
Despite the diplomatic conflict between Ankara and Cairo, Turkey will maintain its current visa regime for Egyptian citizens, the Foreign Ministry has stated in response to a parliamentary question Today`s Zaman reported.
"It is out of the question that we will take measures against the Egyptian people. In this context, the lack of restrictions for Egyptians in our visa system will continue. The Yunus Emre Cultural Center is continuing its activities in Cairo and Alexandria. Turkish Airlines [THY] still flies to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, in addition to Cairo and Alexandria, and those flights continue without interruption," said the ministry's statement of Nov. 14.
Egyptian nationals who hold an official passport are exempt from visa requirements in Turkey for up to 90 days, while ordinary passport holders who have a valid Schengen or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member's visa or residence permit can receive single entry e-visas valid for one month.
There has been growing disagreement between the two regional powers, who are also US allies, since the Egyptian army overthrew elected President Mohammed Morsi on July 3. Egypt has accused Ankara of backing unnamed organizations bent on spreading instability -- probably a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of President Morsi.
The countries' mutual expulsion of ambassadors came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his criticism of Egypt's new leaders, dismissing the trial of Morsi, which began earlier this month on charges of inciting the murder of his opponents while in office. On Nov. 21, Erdogan described the situation in Egypt as a "humanitarian tragedy." In response, Egypt characterized Erdogan's comments as "an unacceptable challenge" to the will of the Egyptian people and a "falsification" of the facts.
It is also stressed that Turkish firms' investment in Egypt exceeds $2 billion, and no embargo or sanction has been imposed on these companies by the Egyptian administration. Most of the Turkish firms are located around the capital city of Cairo, the port of Alexandria and the industrial district of Borg El Arab.
The trade volume between Turkey and Egypt stood at $5.16 billion in 2012, and in the first eight months of 2013 it reached $3.44 billion.
According to the ministry's statement, 41 agreements have been signed between Turkey and Egypt in the period following the Turkey-Egypt High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meetings of 2011 and 2012. The process of approving these agreements between the two countries has been completed, the ministry stated.
Turkey emerged as one of the fiercest critics of Morsi's removal, calling it an "unacceptable coup." Morsi's MB, which has staged protests calling for his reinstatement, has close ties with Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Morsi also enjoyed a close relationship with Turkey during his one-year presidency.
Turkey has announced that it does not recognize the coup administration in Egypt and still considers Morsi the country's legitimate leader.