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Germany silent on Turkish visa rejections, fearing potential harm to bilateral ties

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The German government has announced that Turkish citizens submitted the highest number of visa applications, totaling 214,944, last year, while refraining from disclosing the visa rejection rates to avoid jeopardizing bilateral relations, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

According to the federal government’s response to a parliamentary question submitted by the Left Party, the German government issued visas to a total of 1,260,000 people, with 214,944 applications originating from Turks, followed by Indians with 117,181 and Russians with 60,700.

The federal government, however, refrained from disclosing details about rejected or withdrawn visa applications, designating the information as “For official use only” and restricting access solely to members of parliament.

The government noted that “inappropriate assessments” of individual visa centers’ rejection rates could lead to tensions in bilateral relations. The statement further indicated that this situation is linked to general discussions in Germany about migration as well as the increasing migration pressure globally due to various crises and economic and political developments.

A report submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by Turkish lawmaker Ziya Altunyaldız of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in July 2022 showed an increase in the rejection rate of Schengen visa applications submitted by Turkish citizens from 4 percent in 2014 to 12.7 percent in 2020.

A special report in May by the Ekonomim news outlet also revealed that Turkey has the highest rejection rate among the top five countries in the number of Schengen visa applications — Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Ukraine — the citizens of which have submitted the most applications in the last eight years.

Ekonomim reported claims that Turkey’s rate of rejection for Schengen visa applications, which stood at around 15 percent last year, has climbed as high as 50 percent in 2023, with some countries halting visa applications and others scheduling difficult-to-obtain appointments for months later.

The long waiting periods for visa appointments, increased rejection rates and the short duration of visas are fueled by Turkey’s current economic situation and the increasing number of asylum applications filed by Turkish citizens in EU countries, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU delegation to Turkey said in October 2022.

In late May Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan labeled the increase in the rate of rejection of Schengen visa applications submitted by Turkish citizens a form of “political blackmail” and vowed to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

The German Foreign Ministry announced in July that the opportunity to file an appeal after a visa rejection would be temporarily suspended for citizens of Turkey, China and Morocco due to a considerable rise in the number of applications.

An increasing number of Turks have been seeking refuge in Europe, the US or Canada by securing residence permits either through asylum applications or finding jobs or studying since they see no future for themselves in Turkey or seek to avoid imprisonment for political reasons.

According to the latest data released by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), there was an unexpected surge of Turkish asylum seekers lodging 11,500 applications in September 2023, with the figure representing double that of the same month in 2022 and the most on record. It brings Turkey to the second most common country of origin for asylum applications in the 27 EU countries and Norway and Switzerland.

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