Posted on 21 January 2011
This week saw Turkey and Russia sign a mutual agreement on the readmission of illegal immigrants, which is seen as the final hurdle to the enactment of the visa-free travel deal agreed by the two last May.
Turkey is an extremely popular holiday destination for Russians with over 3 million of them visiting the country each year, and the visa-free agreement is set to boost tourism numbers as well as encourage Russian investment. It is estimated that this regime could be implemented as soon as April.
This is in contrast with EU as Turkey is still negotiating with Brussels to enable visa free travel to European Union countries. Turkey is continuing to struggle to join the EU and has already committed itself to implementing European standards in a number of different fields including construction, transportation and food.
Understandably the country is becoming increasingly frustrated by the process, especially by the attempts of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to block the opening of five chapters. In order to join the EU Turkey is required to negotiate 33 chapters but has only managed to open 13 of them since 2005.
Turkey is perceived as being a moderate Islamic state that has access to a high quality workforce. Many of the white-collar workers in Turkey are able to adapt to the cultures and customs of central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans very successfully, while the location is proving a draw to international companies wanting to set up regional management offices.
It is also the only country that can take advantage of the European Customs Union whilst not actually belonging to the EU. So close, but yet so far?