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Ankara Agreement replacement work ‘underway’

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Following local MP’s call in Haber last week, ambassador confirms UK and Turkey are working on a new deal

Work is underway in both Turkey and Britain to find a replacement for the Ankara Agreement before the UK leaves the European Union.

The free European visa scheme, used by Turkish nationals wanting to work in the UK, faces being abolished entirely when Brexit takes place in 2019.

Thousands of Turkish people have used the agreement in the past decade and many others have pending applications, leading to fears in the community that they will lose their rights.

Abdurrahman Bilgiç, Turkey’s ambassador to the UK, told Haber newspaper this week that they were aware of the concerns and relayed these during regular meetings with Home Office officials.

He also said both countries’ governments were working to replace the scheme.

“As you know, the Ankara Agreement is not a bilateral agreement between the two countries,” he said.

“It is an agreement between Turkey and the EU. Upon formal exit from the EU, the UK will not be a party to this Agreement, just like the rest of EU legislation.

“Our governments have already begun exploring the options for future trade relations in the post-Brexit era. Every effort would be made to maintain and further promote existing trade and investment between our countries.”

Mr Bilgiç said Turkish Consulate officials had been assured it would be “business as usual” with the Ankara Agreement until the UK leaves the EU, and that there would be no “slowing down process” over the next two years.

The ambassador’s remarks came after David Burrowes, the Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, used an interview with this newspaper last week to call for the Ankara Agreement to be retained after Brexit.

“The Ankara Agreement is a good model of how as far it has impacted very positively in terms of enabling Turkish people to set up businesses in the UK and we see that obviously in North London,” Mr Burrowes said, stressing the new visa arrangement would have to be part of a new UK-Turkey trade deal.

In response to Haber newspaper’s questions about the Ankara Agreement, a Home Office spokeswoman said: “Voters made it clear during the referendum that they wanted the country to take back control of immigration.

“This Government will deliver on that by building an immigration system that works for everyone.

“Once we have left the European Union it will be the Government that sets our immigration rules.”

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