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13.10.2008 General News

'Make Visa Acquisition Flexible'

By Benedicta Akey - newtimesonline.com

AKWASI Osei-Adjei, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD, has expressed displeasure at the treatment meted out to visa applicants by the diplomatic missions.

“In an age of communication technology, applicants are sometimes required to produce the stamped envelopes in which their letters of invitation arrived from abroad.

“Others are required to show travel experience, as if no one ever travelled for the first time in a real life experience,” he said.

He said this in a speech read on his behalf at the First African Regional Consular Conference of the World Federation of Honorary Consular Corps held in Accra on Saturday.

The two-day meeting was on the theme: 'The role of the honorary consul in Africa and the global village.'

Mr Osei-Adjei said  the honorary consular corps should reflect on the extent to which it had deliberately or unwittingly played an accessory role in driving many people to embark on hazardous “journeys of no return,” by the arbitrary or unreasonable visa decisions that were made on potential travellers.

He appealed to the consular corps to devise innovative and humane ways of dealing with the travelling public so as to facilitate movement of people in the world.

“The difficulties of visa acquisition should not be allowed to becloud your contribution to the well-being of our global village,” he added.

The President of the World Federation of Consuls, Arnold Foote, said the formation of the African Regional Consular Committee concluded their programme for establishing mutual respect and adherence to the principles used to promote consular cooperation in each member country.

“We must learn from each other, cooperate with each other and function as one well-established and strong system from which both the sending and receiving states can benefit.”

He noted that consuls could be important conduits for information for international trade negotiations and enhanced awareness and involvement of the public, and urged the participants to make meaningful contributions to the promotion of trade.

“The future lies in the development of fair trade in this region and in the world,” he stressed.

As part of the federation's humanitarian outreach programme, he said the consular corps was organising a formal fund-raising banquet to support children with HIV/AIDS known as the FICAC/UNICEF programme.

The World Federation of Consuls has 57 member-countries whose chosen officials live in foreign cities to take care of their people who are travelling or living there, and to protect the trade interests of that country's government.

It also plays a unique role in the removal of racism and xenophobia and has a duty to promote the common humanity, shared vision and common future in a mutually inter-dependent global village.

In attendance were consular crops from more than 20 countries.

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