Turkish visa restrictions remain as thousands of migrants try to reach Europe

Turkey’s General Consul in Erbil says Ankara’s earlier decision to tighten travel terms for visa applicants in the Kurdistan region remains but the restrictions will not apply to students, patients, businessmen or tourists.
Mehmet Akif said the new terms were introduced earlier this year primarily to limit the “illegal migration” of people to Europe through Turkish soil. 
“There are still over 160,000 Iraqi travelers in Turkey whose visas have expired and an additional 90,000 have left for Europe through Turkey,” Akif said and described the current flow of migrants as the main reason behind their decision to restrict travel terms. 
As part of an earlier agreement with the European Union, called the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, Ankara will be receiving 6 billion euros over the next three years to limit “unlawful migration” to Europe.
Nearly one million Iraqis, including travelers from Kurdistan region, have visited Turkey in 2015 with valid visas, Akif said. 
Travel terms were loosened between the two countries in late 2000 amid an acceleration of cross-border trade worth an estimated $12 billion in 2011. 
Ankara’s tourist industry has been severely affected by the refugee crisis and the ongoing war in Syria with record number of tourists, especially from Russia, staying away.

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