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NewsCO.com.au – Turks in Britain worry about future of visa-free dealTurks in Britain worry about future of visa-free deal

February 26, 2017


Thousands of Turkish people living in Britain on a permit created by a special 1963 treaty are being told their situation will be “business as usual” during Brexit. However, the U.K.’s moves to leave the EU are throwing up complex legal questions which could affect thousands of Turkish people living in Britain.

Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.K. Abdurrahman Bilgiç told Anadolu Agency (AA) that those citizens living in Britain on a business document linked to the September 1963 Ankara Agreement would not see a change in their status while the U.K. negotiates its departure from the European Union. Under the free-visa scheme, Turkish citizens are entitled to set up a business in the U.K. and live in the country with no further requirements.

It has been a very popular initiative, with up to 20,000 Turks now living in the U.K. under the Ankara Agreement. However, Bilgiç pointed out the Ankara Agreement was not a bilateral U.K.-Turkey deal. “Once the U.K. officially exits from the EU, it will not be a party to the Agreement, just like all the other agreements that the U.K. is a party to owing to her EU membership,” he said. Bilgiç said the Turkish government was “well aware of the concerns” among its citizens living in the U.K. after the Brexit vote and said regular meetings were being held with Home Office officials.

As Brexit is now expected to start with the U.K. government triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to initiate formal negotiations to leave the 28-member bloc, it is not only EU citizens who are waiting for a clear answer from the authorities about what will happen to their rights. However, Ambassador Bilgiç said he had been reassured by British officials that there would be no change in the short-term.

Bilgiç said: “Our counterparts underlined that until the U.K. officially leaves the EU, business will be as usual.” “All the applications under the Ankara Agreement will be processed as they are normally. The British officials also stressed that there will not be a slowdown during this process.” However, Bilgiç also signaled a possible bilateral agreement between Turkey and the U.K. “Our governments have already begun working on future arrangements aiming at regulating post-Brexit relations so that free trade and investment continue uninterrupted,” he said.

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