Erdogan says US decision to halt Turkey visas ‘very saddening’
Video provided by AFP

ISTANBUL — Sinan Sökmen’s business depends on American tourism, so when the United States and Turkey suspended visitor visas this week, he was shocked.

“We were not expecting such harsh political moves from both sides, but I didn’t think this would last more than a couple of days because it was affecting everyday people’s lives,” said Sökmen, owner of Istanbul Tour Studio, which works with English-speaking visitors. “This is between the politicians, and if American travelers come to Turkey after this crisis, there will be no hostilities toward them from the Turkish people.”

While the initial panic from Sunday’s diplomatic crisis began to subside Wednesday, the latest confrontation between Turkey and the United States signals the deteriorating relationship between two critical military and economic allies that is unlikely to go away soon.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party renewed calls Wednesday for the U.S. to reverse its decision to stop processing non-immigrant visas in Turkey. The U.S. government took that step following the arrest of Metin Topuz, a Turkish employee of its consulate here on charges of espionage and links to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Topuz was the second Turkish employee of a U.S. diplomatic mission to be arrested. 

The Turkish government blames Gulen for orchestrating last year’s coup attempt against Erdogan and has demanded that the U.S. extradite him, something Washington has so far refused to do. 

Turkey retaliated by suspending non-immigrant visas to U.S. citizens, and…