World Bulletin / News Desk
Germany's Munich Administrative Court approved on Wednesday the validity of an earlier European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that Turkish nationals are exempt from visa requirements during travel for tourism purposes to the EU member nation.
The ruling comes just 11 days after the EU announced that negotiations with Turkey on an agreement for the readmission of "illegal" immigrants, the biggest obstacle before a visa-free travel regime between Turkey and the 27-nation bloc, have been concluded.
"Turks could enter into Germany during travel for tourism purposes without obtaining visas and could stay in the country up to three months without obtaining a residence permit," the court said on Wednesday, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday, largely bringing an end to a years-long debate over whether Germany requires visas from Turkish nationals.
Lawyer Temel Nal from the Munich-based Sanas Law Office in Germany has been spearheading the case and says this is the first time a German court approved a ruling stating that Turks may enter Germany while traveling for tourism purposes without obtaining visas. The court ruling sets a precedent and for this reason the court has mandated a right to objection.
Turkish officials have criticized Germany's slow pace of processing visa applications, high application fees and much higher rates of rejections when compared to other EU members. Turkey and the EU, known as the European Economic Community (EEC) at the time, signed a protocol in 1970 that was approved by the EEC in 1972 and which states that EEC states and Turkey will refrain from introducing any new restrictions on the freedom of establishment or the freedom to provide services from the time of entry into force of the protocol in the signatory countries.
The protocol, titled the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement between Turkey and the EEC, entered into force in January 1973 in Germany. This means Germany was not allowed to introduce any new restrictions curbing Turks' freedom of establishment or freedom to provide services in its territory. But restrictions began to mount in the coming decades as Germany toughened its immigration laws.
The court also said the visa requirement was in violation of Article 41 of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement between Turkey and the EEC. The ECJ ruled several times previously that Germany's restriction on Turkish nationals entering Germany without obtaining a visa is in violation of the 41st article of the noted protocol.
Turkish officials frequently criticize the EU for its reluctance to liberalize visa requirements for Turkish citizens. Turkey says many countries that are not EU member states are not required to obtain visas to enter the EU, but Turkey, an EU candidate country, falls short of this privilege.
The EU has insisted on a series of preconditions, including Turkey's introduction of biometric passports in line with EU standards and the signing of a readmission deal, taking into consideration that Turkey has become a major transit point for refugess from Asia and the Middle East trying to reach EU countries. Turkey and the EU concluded the readmission deal in late January of this year, which is seen as the largest obstacle to a visa liberalization regime between the EU and Turkey.
Last Mod: 10 Şubat 2011, 17:15