CAIRO: The Egyptian Foreign Ministry called in accredited European ambassadors and consuls yesterday to emphasize the importance of treating Egyptians applying for visas properly.
“We called for this meeting because of the proximity with and trust we have for the European Union member states, Ambassador Ahmed El-Qaysouni, the Foreign Minister’s assistant for consular affairs and Egyptian expatriates, said after the meeting.
He explained that the regular flow of travelers between Egypt and Europe, in addition to the longstanding Egyptian-European partnerships, entails better treatment of Egyptians applying for visas at Cairo embassies.
El-Qaysouni said that complaints of mistreatment filed by Egyptians traveling to Europe have piled up at the ministry. Rude and humiliating treatment, disdain, and condescending staff were some of the complaints cited by the ministry.
“The media started exposing the problem, affecting the public opinion negatively as it pictures the EU’s countries as being unhelpful to Egyptians seeking visas, he added.
He urged ambassadors to monitor the way in which their employees treat visa applicants, stressing, however, that this does not mean that the ministry wants to interfere in the internal policy of European embassies in Egypt.
He called upon the staff at these embassies to replicate the treatment Europeans receive in Egypt.
Most Europeans visiting Egypt can obtain a visa on arrival within minutes.
On the other hand, Egyptians seeking visas to European countries sometimes have to present numerous documents and wait weeks for approval.
Last Thursday, the foreign ministry advised Egyptians to stay away from the embassies of offending countries.
A statement said the ministry had circulated a memorandum “citing criticisms of the performance of these missions…and the off-putting methods their employees follow, such as evasion, incompetence and ambiguity about what visa applicants require.
“In many cases this has caused financial losses to numerous Egyptians, it added.
European governments say they have legitimate worries about illegal immigration into Europe, where millions of people are living and working in violation of immigration laws. -Additional reporting by Reuters.