European Federation of Journalists

Turkey: Journalists increasingly being rejected Schengen visas

Credits: TGS

Turkish journalists, and citizens are facing increased restrictions when applying for visas to the 27 Schengen countries, according to the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS)

Turkish citizens, including journalists, have recently been encountering various visa-related issues, such as heightened scrutiny of applications and extensive waiting periods when only trying to secure an appointment. The rate of rejected visa applications in 2023 has surged from 15% in 2022 to a staggering 50% at present.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) raises serious concerns over the alleged systematic obstruction of Turkish journalists’ visa applications by the EU member states. It is alarming to observe that journalists who frequently travel abroad for work are granted only short-term visas, necessitating repeated applications. This burdensome and financially unsustainable process must be addressed.

“We urge the Schengen countries to put an end to the defacto visa embargo imposed on journalists. We call upon a number of diplomatic missions to rectify their prejudiced and discriminatory attitudes towards journalists from Turkey, as these biases obstruct reporters from fulfilling their professional responsibilities effectively” said Mustafa Kuleli, the EFJ Vice President.

Famous TV presenter rejected EU entry

The number of journalists facing rejection when applying for Schengen visas has also significantly risen. As an example, sports presenter Sinem Okten was taken aback last year when her visa application to the Schengen area was rejected twice. She had previously visited Europe multiple times to cover matches and interview notable figures such as Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp.

“I initially applied to Germany, and then to France. Both countries rejected my application,” she explained. “I have travelled abroad numerous times to follow and film matches and conduct interviews, possibly around 50-60 times. This is the first time I have encountered such a problem.”

Okten stated that the German embassy provided no reason for the rejection, while a document from the French embassy, as seen by Reuters, cited insufficient evidence that the TV presenter could financially support her stay in France or return to Turkey.

A recent survey by the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) sheds light on the various other challenges journalists face, revealing a troubling landscape of political pressure, censorship, mobbing, and inadequate working conditions. Supported by the EFJ, the study titled “Journalism in Turkey: Perception and Profile” provides insights into the current state of the profession in the country.