Visa express to Turkish citizens – The first phase of the program will begin on five islands on 30 March

“An important task is being done. There’s no delay. We are optimistic that the first phase that includes five islands will begin on 30 March for admission visas ( ) to Turkish citizens, and next year we will have the full implementation,” said Foreign Minister George Geraptritis, responding to a topical question by PASOK-KINAL MP George Nikitiadis. The Foreign Minister said the application of the visa express “is a complex exercise” because it “requires the synergy of many ministries. The Ministry of the Aegean and Island Policy responsible for the ships. The Ministry of Citizen Protection, which is responsible for visas and the protection of borders and citizens. The Ministry of Interior, which has the custody of the municipalities and hence the municipal port funds, and of course all the municipalities of the ten islands where we will have this on-site entry visa.” Mr Gerapetritis stressed that “the whole process has already been initiated. There are constant meetings. We coordinate, so that we have results which will be as positive as possible for the Greek economy, but also for further deepening relations between the two peoples.” In particular, he said that “the measure would be implemented gradually. The first phase will include a minimum of five of our islands which already have mature installed infrastructure, which is large in spatial planning. Planning of the Citizen Protection Ministry is for full operation on 30 March of this year, that is, nineteen days from today. Already the mixed scales of the ministries visit our islands, because there should be a location within the port area in order to be able to make the on-the-spot visa, which requires, on the one hand, the extradition of an offender, then taking some biometric elements – specific typing – and then giving the visa. There should be a significant strengthening of all the islands in terms of points of entry to the ten islands and ports of the ten islands, with staff, both from the Ministry of Citizen Protection and from the Ministry of the Aegean and Island Policy. There’s an important project going on. There was no delay. But we are optimistic, that everything will go in the programming, first phase 30 March and next full implementation.” The Minister pointed out that the interim programme of the on-the-spot visa is a programme which had indeed been implemented on a smaller scale, more delimited, and has in the past produced significant results. The decision was made and announced unilaterally by our country – it is not a matter of agreement – on 7 December at the Supreme Cooperation Council with Turkey. As a result of a very systematic effort made by the Greek government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, so that we can obtain the relevant permission from the European Commission. In the Member’s proposal to extend the programme to other islands, Mr Gerapetritis said that “I understand that our islands would like to enter the programme and indeed I have become a multiple recipient of such requests, but we understand that there are also limits to how far we can extend this programme, given its exceptional character in relation to the law governing the Schengen Convention and that we are already quite marginal.” The MP of PASOK – KINAL, George Nikitiadis, pointed out that the measure of these express visas “has been enthusiastically received by our islanders and has also welcomed PASOK, but the program would start February 1. He got an extension for March 1. March is over soon. We do not know what will happen.” He noted the concern expressed by the agents, as he said “already there are over 30,000 reservations” who estimated that they would apply the new visa system and did not make sure to go with the oldest, resulting in a great risk of cancelling their journey. SOURCE: RES-BE

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