15:58 GMT24 February 2020
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    It is Turkey's sovereign right to choose whether or not to introduce visa requirements for Syrian nationals, First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said Wednesday.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — On January 8, Ankara introduced new visa regulations for Syrian citizens arriving to Turkey by air or sea from third countries.

    The aim of the new measures is to curb the flow of refugees to EU states and they are not expected to affect people fleeing the civil war in Syria directly by land. A visa-free regime between Turkey and Syria has been in effect since 2009.

    "Turkey is in it's full right to introduce visa for people, who travel to Turkey from third countries with a Syrian passport," Timmermans told reporters.

    He added that such an approach could help to stem the flow of undocumented migrants heading to Europe.

    Turkey is a key transit country for thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

    According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees are temporarily living in Turkey, many of whom seek to travel further to Europe.

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    Tags:
    visa regime, European Commission, Frans Timmermans, Syria, Turkey
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