The United States, becoming increasingly isolationist under President Donald Trump, is scaling back visa services in yet another country amid growing diplomatic tensions.
The American mission in Ankara, Turkey has suspended all non-immigrant visa services, according to BBC News, claiming a need to “reassess” that country’s commitment to staff security.
“Recent events have forced the United States Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel,” said the statement issued by U.S. Embassy Turkey.
“In order to minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey.”
In response to the news, the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. shot back a statement saying it would be ending “all visa services.”
“Effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the US citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the US,” said the statement from the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. “This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-visas and border visas.”
This is at least the third country in which U.S. diplomatic services have been reduced amid growing tensions since Trump took office.
However, it’s also worth noting that Turkey has recently arrested as many as 150,000 people in the name of “terror,” including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey. Whether the Trump administration’s latest move is a kind of response to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s apparent attempts to silence his critics is unclear, but Turkey’s political situation suggests there is another layer to its current spat with the U.S.
Souring relations between Russia and the United States has resulted in a dramatic reduction in visa services in that country as well, as TravelPulse reported during August.
The U.S. embassy there ceased all non-immigrant visa operations on August 23 and then resumed on a greatly reduced scale as of September 1. Only the embassy in Moscow continues to conduct applicant interviews. Because of the tensions between the two countries, interviews previously conducted at U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok were halted.
The changes in Russia came on the heels of the Kremlin ordering the U.S. to cut two-thirds of the staff at its embassy.
Also in recent weeks, U.S. embassy staff has been greatly reduced in Havana, Cuba. Only emergency services are now available for U.S. citizens traveling within Cuba, as TravelPulse reported.
The drawdown staff in Cuba was tied to a series of bizarre sonic attacks that have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens. As a result, the State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members to leave the country.
The spat between Turkey and the United States is said to be tied to a U.S. consulate worker in Istanbul being detained over suspected ties to a cleric blamed for last year’s failed coup in that country, BBC reported.
Turkey’s decision to detain the employee was condemned by Washington D.C. as baseless and damaging to bilateral relations. The employee was a male Turkish citizen.
Only people permanently moving to the United States will now be able to apply for visas at the U.S. embassy in Turkey.
By MIA TAYLOR OCTOBER 10, 2017