More than 26,000 Turks have sought asylum in Europe so far in 2023: report

The number of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Europe has surpassed 26,000 so far in 2023, Turkish Minute reported, citing the ANKA news agency.

According to ANKA, over 26,000 Turkish nationals have sought shelter in Europe in 2023 with Turkey ranking fifth in terms of asylum applications to the European Union this year, following Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Colombia.

ANKA also said that consulates of the EU and Schengen countries received more than 7.5 million short-term visa applications globally in 2022 and that 778,409 of those applications originated from Turkey. In 2021 Turks made 271,997 short-term visa applications.

Turkey ranks first in visa applications and is followed by Russia and India in number of applications submitted, ANKA said, adding that the rejection rate for those made by Turkish citizens is 15.37 percent.

The rejection rate for visa applications made from Turkey in 2021 was 16.9 percent, while the global average was 17.9 percent.

In recent months news that European countries are rejecting visa applications from Turkey has been widely circulating. Many people have complained that although they meet the criteria, they were not successful in obtaining a visa. In the first six months of 2023 more than 50 percent of Schengen visa applications have reportedly resulted in declinations.

ANKA listed “the tripling of applications within one year, erroneous applications and similar factors” as the reasons behind the difficulties encountered by Turkish nationals in the visa process.

Speaking to journalist İsmail Saymaz from the Sözcü daily, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut last week said EU countries were becoming increasingly stringent in assessing visa applications from Turkey since even university students were applying for asylum after their studies ended.

He admitted that the Turkish government’s policies and definition of terrorism was a main factor in the visa problem. The government’s definition of terrorism was very ambiguous and broad; therefore, many people who do not feel safe feel compelled to leave the country for a better life.

“We cannot grant a visa to everyone who wants to leave the country because they don’t feel safe and free in Turkey,” he explained. “The rule of law, democracy and human rights are a huge problem, and the more people feel oppressed, the more they want to leave.”

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government since a coup attempt in July 2016. Many have tried to flee illegally as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

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