Belgian refuses visa for Hamas member
29 March 2006, BRUSSELS — The Belgian government is demanding clear guidelines from the EU over the issuing of visas to Hamas members who wish to attend European meetings in Brussels.
29 March 2006
BRUSSELS — The Belgian government is demanding clear guidelines from the EU over the issuing of visas to Hamas members who wish to attend European meetings in Brussels.
The request comes after the Belgian consulate hesitated last week over the visa request of Hamas member Mahmoud al-Ramahi.
The consulate's hesitation resulted in al-Ramahi being unable to attend a meeting of European and Arab politicians in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday.
European Parliament head Josep Borrell said Belgium refused the visa because the Palestinian militant group is still on the parliament's blacklist of terrorist groups.
The conservative Israeli newspaper 'Jerusalem Post' has waged a campaign in the past few weeks against the entry of al-Ramahi into Belgium.
Al-Ramahi was scheduled to attend a parliamentary meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, but the Jerusalem Post said his attendance would have breached the EU policy of exclusion against Hamas.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht reacted with irritation to the matter: "We did not have the fiat of the Schengen [Treaty] nations, so we could not grant a visa," he said.
De Gucht said Belgium will wait for a joint EU stance before taking the matter further, stressing that it was a essentially an EU and not a Belgian issue.
EU states have said they will only establish normal relations with Hamas — which is charged with forming a Palestinian government — once it renounces terrorism and recognises Israel.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news