By Sinan Uslu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish citizens are facing difficulties in obtaining a Schengen visa, a Turkish lawmaker said in his report presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The report, titled Misuse of the Schengen Information System as a Politically Driven Sanction by Member States of the Council of Europe, presented by lawmaker Ziya Altunyaldiz, raises concerns about the unnecessary and large amount of paperwork required for visas, as well as high fees and the requirement that applications be submitted in person.
The report adopted at the PACE Legal Affairs and Human Rights Commission meeting in the last week of June recommended that the Schengen Information System be revised immediately.
Altunyaldiz stressed that the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees freedom of movement. “Use of data in the system should not violate human rights, privacy and freedom of travel,” it added.
However, the number of Schengen visa application refusals increased rapidly from 4% in 2014 to 12.7% in 2020, he told the PACE, adding that the misuse of the Schengen Information System could be one of the factors behind this.
He pointed out that Türkiye is the country with the highest number of Schengen visa applications, but on the others hand, Turkish businesspeople face difficulties when they apply for Schengen visas.
Altunyaldiz stated in his presentation that Turkish nationals, particularly those seeking to engage in business operations, have difficulties in visa application processes despite presenting required documentation such as itinerary and accommodations.
Problems such as requesting unnecessary and excessive documents, high fees, issuing single-entry and short-term visas, issuing the visa after the purpose of the visit passed and the obligation to apply face-to-face were listed in the report.
Controls should be made more effective in terms of the accuracy and legality of the data entered into the Schengen Information System, the report suggested.
The misuse of the system that hinders the establishment of business activities and more effective investment cooperation should be avoided, it added.
The legislation of the relevant countries should be updated to ensure that administrative decisions on the refusal to issue Schengen visas for political or other reasons are subject to judicial review
Altunyaldiz urged the PACE and the EU member states to finalize the revision of the Schengen evaluation mechanism immediately and examine how to avoid inadequacies in the functioning of the Schengen Information System.