NATION

Europe Visas Not A Priority Now: Sujiro

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing most countries to stop issuing visas, it didn’t make sense to travel to Europe these days, he said.
30 Oct 2020 09:57
Europe Visas Not A Priority Now: Sujiro
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (left) and EU Ambassador to the Pacific Sujiro Seam at the Fiji-EU Political Dialogue press conference on October 29, 2020.. Photo: Ronald Kumar

It doesn’t make sense right now to open a discussion on visa waiver agreement, said European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, yesterday. He made the statement when questioned on the progress of visa facilitation for Fijians intending to travel to Europe.

At the 3rd High Level Political Dialogue between Fiji and the European Union in 2018, he said they had committed to revisit the visa issue once they had new leadership.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing most countries to stop issuing visas, it didn’t make sense to travel to Europe these days, he said.

“It is extremely difficult now to open a discussion on opening a visa waiver agreement with any country in the world. It simply doesn’t make sense even if we were able to issue visas you would not find an airplane connection to travel to Europe anyway and gauging the interest of flyers to travel to Europe, I don’t think this is the best area to focus our attention,” Mr Seam said.

“Our priority is really to help the world, the Pacific and Fiji to overcome the consequences of COVID-19 on the health front, but Fiji is performing well on the matter.”

At yesterday’s press conference following the culmination of the 5th High Level Political Dialogue, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fijian Government recommended that Europeans returning from Fiji be exempted from quarantine.

He said this would make Fiji a more attractive tourist destination for Europeans.

Mr Seam said they supported Fiji’s overarching goal to revitalise its tourism industry.

Other areas of discussion included the EU’s support during the pandemic, co-operation for the vaccine, trade relations and technology and ocean governance.

On the trade front, the Fijian Government has urged the EU to grant Fiji the policy space to incentivise the growth of COVID-proof industries like the ICT sector.

The Fijian Government believes it was unfortunate that Small Island Pacific States, including the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, had been unfairly subjected to the EU’s non-co-operative tax jurisdictions, especially now during the worst economic crisis.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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