Fiji remains committed to strengthening its bilateral relations with the European Union following the high level talks held in Brussels this week.
This assurance was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Hon. Inia Seruiratu who led Fiji’s delegation to the 4th High Level Political Dialogue between Fiji and the European Union.
Beginning in 2015, the key objective of the political dialogue has been to exchange information, to foster mutual understanding and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas, by recognizing the links in various areas of cooperation. Both sides use this platform as a process to engage in dialogue based on the mutual understanding and appreciation of each party’s own respective development needs and challenges.
Minister Seruiratu met with the EU delegation that was led by Mr Gunnar Wiegand, the Managing Director for Asia Pacific division at the European External Action Services. At these talks, Minister Seruiratu said that Fiji sees EU as an important economic and political development partner not only in Fiji but also in the wider Pacific region. He added that the EU has played a vital role in supporting global efforts to highlight the impact of climate change especially in small islands developing states.
Key issues discussed at the political dialogue included Fiji’s desire to be included in the Schengen visa waiver list which will be reviewed later in 2020, EU-Fiji trade relations, tax cooperation, socio political developments and climate change. During the dialogue, Minister Seruiratu also welcomed the interim arrangements by both Germany and France, to receive Schengen visa applications in Fiji through an external service provider. This interim arrangement will be implemented whilst Fiji awaits the EU to reopen their own discussions in 2020 on visa waiver requests. This arrangement will also ease the processing of Schengen visas to Europe, and in doing so, saving Fijians time and costs associated with Schengen Visa applications.
Minister Seruiratu also welcomed the EU’s commendation of Fiji’s own socio-economic developments and Fiji’s international profile especially in the area of climate change and peacekeeping missions.
In commending the successful conclusion of the 4th political dialogue, Minister Seruiratu said that Fiji remains committed to enhancing the process of the dialogue and strengthen its relations with the EU.