Foreign Ministry says Russia visa deal not yet in effect

July 29, 2010, Thursday/ 16:35:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday dismissed reports from media outlets that an agreement eliminating visas between Turkey and Russia had come into effect and confirmed in a written statement that the deal had to go through a ratification process in Russia before it could be implemented.

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement eliminating the requirement for visas for stays of less than 30 days on May 12. The measure is expected to be well received by Russians, who flock to holiday resorts on Turkey’s southern coast every year. Some 3 million Russians come to Turkey annually, mostly to Antalya, and the visa exemption agreement is expected to lead to an increase in Russian visitors.

The Turkish Cabinet approved the visa deal on June 21, and it was then entered into the Official Gazette on Tuesday. News outlets reported that the agreement went into effect as soon as the Cabinet approved the deal. However, the Foreign Ministry denied such claims, stressing that the agreement could only be implemented following the approval of a readmission agreement with Russia. Authorities say the agreement is designed to prevent the abuse of visa-free travel.

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