Is Greek decision to let Turkish citizens visit seven Greek islands without visa overruling the Schengen Visa Regime?
Why Greece took this step risking its relations with EU?
The special Schengen visas permit Turks to stay on the islands for between one and three days. This special agreement, which came into effect three years ago, Turkish tourists wishing to visit the Aegean Greek islands of Chios, Lesbos, Samos, Symi, Rhodes, Kos and Kastellorizo can get their visa upon arrival to the islands without applying for a visa in Greek consulates in Turkey.
The reason is all about money: Greek business owners and local leaders on the islands have been mentioning that abolishing the visa regime would hinder tourism and could result in disaster for the local economy which took a major hit not only from the sluggish Greek economy but also the influx of refugees to the islands over the previous months.
Greece’s Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgios Katrougalos said earlier that ”The European Commission is due to transmit its official answer over to Athens in the coming days, so the visa agreement for Turks will be reinstituted for at least one more year”.
Everyone knows that Greece is a debt-ridden, since the country was severely hit by the 2008 global financial crisis. The country has to cope with serious economic and problems. In this framework, tourism plays a significant role and it is the main income source of Greece, especially the above mentioned seven islands.
Greece has not been approaching so friendly and welcoming towards Turks when it comes to other diplomatic matters. For instance, the country did not hesitate to face Turkish anger by rejecting ot extradite of eight soldiers to Turkey.