The Guyana Government has expressed its displeasure at being left out of the list of Caribbean countries granted visa-free travel to 26 countries in Europe which are part of the Schengen area.
“We have expressed concern, if not alarm, about the treatment of Guyanese,” to an EU delegation of eight to thirteen members who are visiting Guyana, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge told a media conference on Wednesday.
The delegation is on the Sixth Round of European Union-Guyana Political Dialogue in the framework of Article 8 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement.
Nationals of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago were given the right to travel visa-free to the Schengen area in 2015 allowing them to travel to those countries for a stay of up to 90 days within any six-month period.
Other countries include Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis.
The Minister said the move is “discriminatory,” as the EU did not provide a reason for not including Guyana.
“As a matter of fact, as far as we can see from the criteria they used, Guyana falls squarely among those countries that don’t pose a risk and therefore it should be treated differently,” the Foreign Minister said.
He said that Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Maria Mogherini, explained during a meeting on Tuesday that the EU will not look at Guyana’s case until a new EU council is appointed.
But he sees this as “kicking it [the issue] down the road or kicking it into the tall grass which makes us extremely unhappy.”
The Schengen Area comprises of 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders and mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
Minister Greenidge said the EU delegation, during a meeting on Monday, is requesting that they [EU] be treated as an international agency in Guyana as opposed to the current status of representing a State.
“They are treated by and large as a State instead of how we treat international agencies like, the WHO,” he explained.
The meeting addressed a number of other issues ranging from political development, governance, constitutional reform, human rights issues, migration, management of oil and gas, climate change, security, Brexit and consular matters.
The EU side was headed by the Ambassador of the European Union, Jernej Videtič and included Ambassadors of the UK, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.
The Guyanese delegation was headed by the Minister and included Mrs. Audrey Jardine-Waddell, Director General; Heads of Departments within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of key Government Ministries.
The objectives of the Dialogue are to exchange information to foster mutual understanding and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas, in particular by recognising the existing links between the different aspects of the relations between the parties and the various areas of cooperation as laid down in the Cotonou Agreement, the Ministry said in a statement on Monday.