Germany says EU will review Turkey travel warning in mid-July

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the European Union will review the bloc’s COVID-19 warning on travel to Turkey in mid-July, state-run Anadolu news agency said. 

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Berlin on Thursday, Maas said Turkey had provided detailed information about its COVID-19 containment measures, which would be reviewed by relevant German and European authorities. 

“In the next two weeks, we will have discussions within the EU and will review the list of positive countries,” he said, referring to the countries classified by the 27-member bloc as safe for travel.

“But I cannot prejudge the outcome of our assessment,” Maas said.

Çavuşoğlu renewed his call on Germany to reconsider its travel warning on Turkey due to Ankara’s measures to tackle the coronavirus.

“Germany needs to revise its travel warning on Turkey based on objective assessments. Our German friends also want to holiday here,” Çavuşoğlu said.

As it currently stands, German tourists would have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return from Turkey.

Germany’s tourism operators have also called on Berlin to lift travel warnings on countries outside the EU, which are currently in place until Aug. 31.

On Tuesday, EU members lifted travel restrictions on 15 countries outside the bloc, including Canada, Algeria, Tunisia, Serbia, Rwanda, South Korea, and Thailand.

The EU’s decision drew criticism from Ankara, with Turkish officials stating that Turkey should have been included in the list.

Nur Özkan Erbay, a columnist for Daily Sabah newspaper, speculated on Thursday that the decision was “political” rather than being made on health grounds, although she did not produce any clear reasoning to support her argument. 

Erbay said that, if the EU maintained a travel warning on Turkey, “this would strengthen the common view in Turkey that Brussels uses tourism and the economy as weapons against Turkey. Yet, this approach would not help anyone, particularly the EU, during this global economic shrinkage. In fact, if the EU administration under German leadership will not review this decision from the viewpoint of a win-win policy, this could be a zero-sum game for all”.

Turkey is seeking to kick-start its vital tourism industry, which earned a record $34.5 billion last year, after ending lockdowns throughout the country and partially resuming international flights.

Turkey is one of the most popular travel destinations for German holidaymakers. Nearly 5 million German tourists traveled to Turkey last year, Anadolu said.