15 Nisan 2011 Cuma

Turkish civil initiative takes stand against passport-fee hike


The Freedom of Travel Platform, a Turkish civil initiative, is preparing to present a petition to the government to protest skyrocketing fees for passports in the country.

“The ministry sells our own rights to us at astronomical prices. There is no use in waiving visas with other countries if passport prices stay at this level,” O. Suat Özçelebi, spokesman of the platform, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “Turkey is applying visas to its own citizens.”

The Finance Ministry has recently announced that the fees will increase by 7 percent at the beginning of 2011.

Increasing numbers of volunteers from the platform, which has 15,000 members on the social networking site Facebook, are now planning greater protests against the ministry’s recent decision, said Özçelebi. The organization plans to send signatures from the petition to the president, the prime minister and the Finance Ministry.

The Turkish passport is known as the “the most expensive passport in the world,” Özçelebi said, adding that at an average cost of $225, the price was not fair by world standards.

The current 360-Turkish Lira fee for a 10-year Turkish passport will rise to 388 liras with the coming 7 percent increase, Özçelebi said.

“Passports are identity documents and should not be subject to price increases every year,” he said.
“For the last three months, volunteers from this movement have collected signatures to force authorities to reduce the passport fees to $50, which is the average world standard,” he said.

“We want back our freedom of travel,” he told the Daily News. “Freedom of travel is a constitutional right and guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The platform played an important role in the Turkish government’s decision to decrease passport prices by 50 percent in August 2010.

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