Posted on 22 April 2010
Visa-free travel between Turkey and Russia could begin this summer, a Russian official said Thursday.
Russian Ambassador Vladimir Ivanovskiy said that preparations are ongoing, but the deal is unlikely to be finalised until Russian President Dimitri Medvedev visits Turkey in the first half of May.
“But I believe it might be possible to have visa free travel by the summer months,” said Ivanovskiy, whilst speaking at a round table discussion organized by the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that the countries being on the verge of lifting mutual visa restrictions would have been inconceivable even 3 years ago.
“However, now all the preparations are underway, and I have word a delegation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry will go to Moscow for talks,” he said, adding that Russia and Turkey must still finalize a readmission agreement between the two countries before the restrictions are ended.
Ivanovskiy, however, said he did not anticipate great changes with visa-free travel. “We already have 3 million Russians coming every year to Turkey,” he said, adding that Turkey has become a “Russian national resort.”
This is the latest in a succession of similar arrangements made by Turkey, with Syria, Jordan, Libya and most recently, Lebanon and Albania. Turkey is determined to hit its target of 30 million tourists this year, seemingly spurred on by the fact that the industry suffered only a minor setback last year. The visa-free agreements will undoubtedly help in this aim.