Turkish envoy hopes UAE’s travel warning will be lifted soon

ABU DHABI // The Turkish envoy to the UAE is hopeful that the warning against Emiratis travelling to his country will soon be lifted.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a travel notice advising against travel to Turkey. Citizens were asked to avoid flying to Turkey and to postpone any travel plans there until further notice.

In the early hours of the new year, 39 people were killed in an attack on an Istanbul nightclub during the celebrations.

Many of the victims were visitors from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ambassador Can Dizdar said Turkey was on the front line in the battle with ISIL, but other nations had been victims of recent terrorist attacks without such a warning.

He said he was handling the matter with the relevant UAE authorities, with a certainty the warning would be removed as soon as possible.

“Turkey is a country of 80 million people,” Mr Dizdar said.

“We had one incident and our security people are after those responsible. There is nothing to discourage anybody to come to Turkey for business or tourism. If you go elsewhere in Europe, it is not safer. We have to acknowledge this and you can’t issue a travel warning for the globe. “

He said ISIL was aiming to discourage people from going out and interacting.

“We need to counter that and we have to maintain our lifestyle as usual,” he said. “I don’t believe this warning will remain in place for a long time. Our talks will continue with relevant UAE authorities to fix this but in the meantime I have received reports from our people that UAE citizens continue to go to Turkey.”

Mr Dizdar said UAE-Turkish relations were picking up as a 60 per cent increase in trade volume was recorded last month over November.

He said that he was encouraged that UAE business circles were not affected by this warning.

With 100 weekly flights between both countries and up to 14,000 Turks living in the UAE, an expert said governments had a duty to protect their citizens.

“Turkey is going through a phase where terrorist attacks have intensified and targeted tourist hotspots, where part of the intention for terrorists is to hurt the Turkish economy for which tourism is so important,” said Sabahat Khan, senior analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

“So it is not entirely surprising. They (warnings) have been issued for Berlin, the US, Lebanon and many other countries. At the same time many people, including from the UAE, love visiting Turkey. Millions continue to visit undeterred, and others for business and trade. Such travel advice is reviewed almost daily and hopefully the warning can be downgraded very soon.”

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