Posted on 12 May 2010
The much-talked-about visa-free travel agreement between Turkey and Russia has finally become a reality. The deal was officially signed today, by leaders of both countries, during the Russian Premier Dimitry Medvedev’s visit to Turkey.
"This is a historic agreement that will make life easier for millions of people. And it will come into effect in the shortest possible time," said Medvedev in announcing the agreement at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül.
The Russian president defined the day as a historic one, and said Turkish-Russian relations had changed radically in recent years as the two countries had signed significant agreements particularly on cooperation in transportation and security.
According to the Russian President, the international recession led to a 15% drop in Russian tourism to Turkey, from 3million in 2008 to 2.5 million in 2009. It is hoped that the visa-free travel agreement will help this number, not to recover, but to go beyond the 3 million mark this year.
The Russian deal is the latest in a succession of similar deals agreed by the Turkish government, with countries including, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Albania. It is hoped that the deals will help Turkey smash its target to receive 30 million tourists this year.