Foreign Minister confirms renewed efforts for US visa waiver for Cypriots

Nicosia is renewing its efforts to free Cypriot citizens from the obligation of needing to secure a visa to enter the US.

These efforts are taking place in coordination and full consultation with the USA.

It is worth noting that Cyprus, together with Romania and Bulgaria, are the only three EU countries whose citizens still require a visa to enter the USA through an issuance process which, at least where our island is concerned, is understood to be particularly demanding and time-consuming.

This is an issue which, at a political level, Foreign Minister Konstantinos Kombos discussed from the very first meeting he had with the US Ambassador to Cyprus, Julie Fisher, with Kombos later telling InBusinessNews that there is joint political goodwill from both sides to lift this specific obligation for Cyprus.

One of the issues that, among others, has until now complicated the successful outcome of the whole effort concerns the coordination of the assorted services within the Republic of Cyprus, which is why this coordination has now been entrusted to the Deputy Minister for the President, Irine Piki.

"We are in consultation with the US side, with which there is complete coordination. From our side, a new structure was adopted, where the co-competent Ministries have each designated a contact point for the specific issue. Horizontal coordination has now been assigned to the Deputy Minister for the President, so that problems can be resolved if they exist at a horizontal level," the Foreign Minister indicated, speaking to InBusinessNews. He added that on the US side, all the required information is being provided as they are developing since no set time limits are in place.

Constantinos Kombos emphasised that this is a quite complex matter, as there are issues that the USA has always viewed with reservations, placing into the whole equation the involvement of, for example, various departments in the US that have to do with the country's national security.

"Both from the US side and from our side, I believe that work has begun on the resulting issues so that there can be an improvement and the expectation that the matter will be resolved with positive results," the Foreign Minister pointed out.

Asked whether a time horizon for a positive resolution of the issue can be set, Constantinos Kombos made it clear that such a time horizon cannot be put in place with certainty, explaining in this regard that any progress depends on various technical assessments, when they are completed, etc.

"The intention of both sides, and this is the important thing," he emphasised, "is to complete this effort as soon as possible. But no one can set a schedule."

It is worth noting that according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the route for the removal of Cyprus from the list of the three states in which it is currently included, is based on models followed by other countries which were recently removed from the list.

"From the first meeting I had with the US Ambassador, it was one of the topics we discussed, and the efforts were launched on the basis of models followed by other countries that were recently removed from the list of three states in which we are also on. We saw how other countries did it and we are following exactly the same model," Kombos explained.

However, conclusively indicating that due to the technical complexity of the issue, excessive expectations should not be created - at least at this stage - the Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the issue has been reawakened and that it remains high on the government's agenda, as it is something both Cyprus and the US want.

"We are coordinating with each other and there is a common goodwill. This is what differentiates it from before, when the approach from the US side was much more cautious,” Kombos said, noting that he anticipated a positive result since the political will for one existed. What was important now, he added, was to focus on the technical side of things.

(Source: InBusinessNews)

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