A streamlined process affording Turkish citizens the opportunity to receive a seven-day visa for travel to a bevy of Greek islands will be one of the more prominent agreements to be signed during a one-day visit to Athens on Thursday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – a development viewed as confirming a ‘thaw’ in bilateral relations.

Erdoğan will head up a sizable Turkish delegation that includes numerous ministers, top government officials and media.

The agreement will allow for Turkish citizens and their children to apply for the visa after arriving on specific island destinations.
The 10 islands specified for the “easy-visa” regime are Lesbos (Lesvos), Lemnos, Samos, Chios, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Symi, Kastellorizo and Rhodes, all of which lie just west of the western Asia Minor shores in the eastern Aegean Sea.

The ministry of migration policy has worked out the framework for the agreement, while approval has been gained from the European Commission, and specifically from Swedish Commissioner Ylva Johansson’s office, despite Ankara’s foot-dragging vis-a-vis Sweden’s NATO application.

The agreement will also mark a milestone, as Greece become the first Schengen Pact member-state to grant Turkish citizens this type of visa.

The development is similarly noteworthy as is it comes amid a period when political asylum applications by Turkish nationals fleeing the country for adjacent Greece – as well as elsewhere in Europe – have spiked.

Further benefits for Athens have Ankara reiterating its commitment to control and deflect third country migrant flows departing from its territory for clandestine travel to Greece. Furthermore, it’s expected to further boost tourism to the 10 islands, as Turkish holiday-makers will enjoy year-round travel.

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish nationals annually visit Greece, with most market reports and analyses referring to high per diem spending by the former, while tourism professionals in the country consider Turkish tourists as “premium” travelers.