The Fiji Times

Schengen visas


I READ with bemusement PM’s apparent negotiatio­ns to get visa free entry to UAE.

Getting into or through UAE is not such a big issue and hardly seems to be a priority.

Fiji seems to have negotiated visa free entry to countries such as Brazil, Chile, Georgia, Russia etc, hardly key destinatio­n for our people.

What about the key countries such as Australia, NZ, Japan, UK, US, EU and even African and Asian countries like India, Thailand etc.

Let me relate a recent incident involving a relative to try and find out how to get a Schengen visa for entry to European countries — a key destinatio­n for meetings and tourism.

She was invited for UN Climate Change meeting in Bonn.

We had read a report about the French Ambassador announcing with a lot of fanfare that now Fijians did not need to send documents to Vanuatu, an arrangemen­t made a few years ago, to get a Schengen visa. Indeed, so was claimed, one can go through the French Embassy in Suva once again.

What the distinguis­hed ambassador failed to qualify is that this is only when France is the first destinatio­n.

So her journey to the alleged processing centre in Mid City, resulted in being directed to the French Embassy in Pacific House.

After negotiatin­g with security to allow her to speak to a real immigratio­n person, she was advised that there is a German visa processing centre on Victoria Parade.

When she turned up to this office, the person at the desk clarified that their premises are only used for interviews and there is no one available full time, in spite of the opening hours written boldly on the door. She was directed to the Canadian visa processing centre in Tappoos, and eventually when she was able to speak to the relevant staff the next day, she was advised the processing is done by Wellington and Singapore. So one needs to, after the usual interviews etc, have the documents sent to these places, a process that will take several weeks.

If this is an example of how EU and some of our supposed friends treat our citizens, it should be a source of great concern to both Fiji and our partners. In spite of Fiji having presence in Brussels, Geneva, London, we have not been able to secure a smooth process for our citizens. In fact it seems to have gone worse. When the French Embassy was processing visas prior to 2017, the process was so much smoother. And this is in spite of Fiji and Germany co-hosting the UNFCCC COP.

And this was for an official UNFCCC meeting at their HQ in Bonn where most meetings are held. I guess the Govt officials are able to work with their Embassies in Wellington so do not seem to be affected, but the other experts from NGOs, private sector, institutio­ns etc seem to have to run from pillar to post.

Surely we should be able to do better for our citizens given our touted leadership in climate change, human rights and internatio­nally. We do not treat the visitors from these countries in this way.


Minto, NSW

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji