Turkish Erasmus students seek asylum from European countries

Turkish Erasmus students seek asylum from European countries
Update: 31 August 2022 15:58
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An official document from the education ministry revealed that Turkish students who are in Europe for exchange programs apply for asylum in those countries

The Visa crisis between the EU countries and Turkey aggravated after Sozcu newspaper revealed an official document from the education ministry presenting data that shows Turkish students use exchange programs as a way to seek asylum from the countries they go to.

The official letter signed by ministry’s top officials warned branch offices against the selection of students and teachers in EU exchange programs who risk requesting asylum when they reach the targeted country. 

In the letter, Hasan Unsal, a general manager in the ministry of education responsible for foreign relations, said that several agencies from the foreign ministry complained about the students and interns who deviate from the programme and “tend to stay in the country of destination.” 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that there are cases of students and teachers leaving the program without informing the school administration and even not returning to our country, especially during the internship activities of vocational high school students in the program member countries (especially Germany, Austria and Czechia.)  The increase in such cases creates a negative outlook for our country, the programs and our official passports. Considering our warnings, the selection processes of the participants for the international funded projects, especially the Erasmus program, should be followed meticulously,” Unsal said. 

The letter follows a crisis between Turkey and EU countries over the hike in visa rejections last year.

Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that the rejection of Turkish citizens' applications for Schengen visa reached 19 percent in 2021.

The applications are mostly rejected on grounds that the applicants "may not return to their home country" because of the ongoing economic crisis in Turkey and over concerns for the increasing political repression, Cumhuriyet said. 

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the visa rejections against Turkish citizens were intentional because the western countries aimed to leave the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) in a difficult situation ahead of next year’s elections.