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    Migrants from Syria and Afghanistan arrive on an overcrowded dinghy from the Turkish coasts to the Greek island of Lesbos, Monday, July 27, 2015

    Turkey Toughens Visa Policy Toward Syrians to Cut Illegal Migration

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    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said that Turkey is changing its visa-free entry policy for Syrian citizens and will demand visas from Syrians arriving in the country from third countries by air and sea.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Turkey is changing its visa-free entry policy for Syrian citizens and will demand visas from Syrians arriving in the country from third countries by air and sea starting from January 8, 2016, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Wednesday.

    "Starting from January 8, [2016] Syrians arriving in Turkey by air and sea will need visas. However, we will continue our open-door policy as a humanitarian consideration [for Syrians], crossing our land border," Bilgic told journalists at a press conference, as quoted by Karar news portal.

    According to Bilgic, the measure has been taken in order to curb illegal migration that has significantly increased recently.

    Turkey and Syria signed Visa Exemption Agreement in October 2009, allowing visa-free entry to citizens of both countries.

    Earlier in December, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported, citing a senior Turkish official, that no changes were planned in visa regime with Syria.

    Turkey is currently facing huge inflow of Syrian refugees fleeing the war-torn country. Over 2.2 million Syrian refugees are temporarily living in Turkey, many of whom seek to travel further to Europe. Turkish authorities have repeatedly stated they were detecting numerous Syrians arriving in the country illegally with fake passports from third countries.

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    migration, Syria, Turkey
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