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PM Raises Visa Issuance Concern

PM Raises Visa  Issuance Concern
European Union Ambassadot to Fiji and Pacific Julian Wilson (left) and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during Third high level EU Political Dialogue Forum at Suvavou House in Suva on May 23, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar
May 24
12:32 2018

The issuance of visas to Fijian citizens travelling to European Union (EU) member countries has been raised as a matter of concern by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister raised the issue while opening the Fiji-EU Third Enhanced Political Dialogue at Level 9 Suvavou House, Suva, yesterday. 

“As a democracy, and as an equal partner to our friends in the EU, it is unfortunate that we still find ourselves discussing the issuance of visas for Fijians travelling to EU member countries,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said three years ago Fiji raised this issue with the EU, yet yesterday they could not report that any progress had been made.

“In fact, I believe we are only one of two Pacific island countries whose citizens are not granted visas on arrival throughout the EU,” he said.

The strength of any serious partnership, he said, was built on a foundation of fairness, dignity and equality.

“So, again, we ask that this dialogue advance the issue of visa issuance for the Fijian people.”

In May 2016 the then EU Head of Delegation for the Pacific Ambassador Andrew Jacobs said Fijians might be able to visit 22 European countries without the need for a visa from 2017.

“Fiji and Papua New Guinea are not so far partners to this agreement, we’re working on that,” Mr Jacobs said.

“That will come sometime in the future. Our colleagues in Brussels are working on the migration issue rather have their hands full at the moment with the migration challenges in Europe, but our intension also is to extend this visa waiver scheme into Fiji in due course.”

Currently countries such as Kiribati, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have already been given visa free entry.

Current Head of EU Delegation for the Pacific Ambassador Julian Wilson in his speech yesterday said they were now looking into the matter.

In his opening address, Mr Bainimarama said this week’s dialogue was initially scheduled for 2017, but it was quite a busy year for Fiji.

Fiji, he said, had hosted the first United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference last June and presided over the COP23 negotiations last November.

The event, he said, was moved to 2018 and he welcomed all participants to Fiji.

Mr Bainimarama said Fiji was proud of every relationship it shared with the member countries of the EU; relationships that had transformed the lives of Fijians and Europeans alike.

He said Fiji recognised this event as a powerful tool in strengthening those relationships and in finding new ways it could make life better for the people here in Fiji, in the EU and everywhere around the world.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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