U.S. lifts the visa ban on Turkey ‘before the next crisis’ - columnist

United States lifted the temporary halt over visa applications from Turkey in an attempt to suppress the declining relations before it became graver, Amberin Zaman, a columnist for Turkish news website Diken wrote.

U.S. consulates in Turkey have stopped accepting visa applications in October after two of its consulate employees, both Turkish citizens, were arrested by Turkish courts.  

Despite the initial stand off was meant to maintain the ban until the consulate employees were released, Zaman said, not everyone in Washington agreed.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, and U.S. Consul in Istanbul, Jennifer Davis, were both on the same page over a strong reaction against Turkey, Zaman wrote.

However, with Bass left Turkey after completing his term, the U.S. charge d’affaires Phil Kosnett’s rapprochement efforts won over.

Zaman noted that despite the lifting of the visa restrictions, the forecast is not optimistic: The continuing of arms support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, ongoing pre-trial detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey, and Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 systems, which is under the U.S. sanctions list, remain at the centre of the strained bilateral relations.

“The U.S. Congress is looking for ways to punish Turkey,” Zaman said.