British Minister for Europe Lidington says since UK not part of Schengen agreement, Turkish citizens to still require visa despite recent EU-Turkey deal
LONDON – Turkish citizens will still require visas for the U.K. despite an agreement between EU and Turkey at a recent summit in Brussels, British Minister for Europe David Lidington said Wednesday.
In remarks made at the House of Commons in London, Lidington said that since the U.K. is not a part of the Schengen agreement, Turkish citizens will still require the visa.
“Because we are not members of the Schengen area, we are able to maintain our own border controls and make our own decisions on asylum. We will not be part of the process of liberalization of visas, that would be a concern of Schengen countries,” he said.
The minister also said the U.K. will not resettle any more refugees.
“The agreement would not impose any new obligations on U.K., in respect of either resettlement or relocation,” he said, adding: “We are already resettling 20,000.”
The U.K. will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria until 2020. So far the country has taken in only hundreds of Syrian refugees.
Official statistics show that 252 people were resettled in the U.K. by the end of September 2015. On Dec. 16, 2015, the British premier announced that the government had met its commitment to resettle 1,000 Syrians in the U.K. before the end of the year.
Lidington said the U.K has “agreed to pay £250 million [$355.76 million] share” of the 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) payment meant for Turkey’s refugee program.
When asked about U.K’s position on Turkey’s accession to EU, he said the administration continues to support Turkey’s membership but “that is not going to be happening in near future.”
About establishing safe havens inside Syria, Lidington said: “The possibility was not ruled out.”
“This point about safe havens, those are a possibility, the possibility was discussed in EU- Turkey Summit but there are many political, legal and military complications to that particular steps, so we have not ruled it out, but there is no agreement yet,” he said.
The European Union leaders agreed on a wide range of proposals by Turkey to solve the migration crisis Monday, including the return of all irregular migrants, accelerating visa liberalization process for Turkish citizens and sharing the work of hosting Syrian refugees.
Ankara has requested visa-free travel for its citizens by end of June and an additional 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to meet the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey.