Male, Maldives (CU)_ In view of the improved EU-Maldives ties, Abdulla Shahid, Maldivian Foreign Minister and President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), has expressed hopes that more European Union (EU) member nations will abolish visa mandates for Maldivian passengers. Minister Shahid made the comment in a video message presented during an event hosted by the EU in the Maldives.
Vice President Faisal Naseem, EU Ambassador to Maldives Denis Chaibi, cabinet ministers, and other top government officials also participated in the event. In his video message, Minister Shahid emphasized that the opening of the VFS Global Visa Facilitation Center in Malé City in 2020 has expedited the Schengen visa application procedure for Maldivians traveling to Europe.
Shahid thanked the governments of Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Italy for collaborating with the VFS office to facilitate the Schengen visa service, and also urged other EU nations to collaborate with VFS Global to provide the service in the Maldives. In view of the strengthened EU-Maldives ties, he expressed optimism that European nations will soon remove visa mandates for Maldivian tourists.
Minister Shahid then expressed thanks to the EU for helping the Maldives during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically mentioning the 1 million euros donated to the health sector and the 2 million euros granted to the tourism industry. He emphasized that the financial help allowed the Maldives to tackle the pandemic while simultaneously revitalizing the economy.
Minister Shahid expressed further appreciation for the support of 40 million euros sponsored by the European Investment Bank to bolster economic resilience. Minister Shahid further highlighted the EU as a vital commercial partner for the Maldives, as it is one of the primary destinations for Maldivian fishing exports and the biggest tourist market for the Maldives, accounting for 70 percent of the share of visitor arrivals.