My wife and I had not traveled together in quite a long time. What with the wedding and the birth of our daughter, we just did not have the time or the possibility to travel together. But now that we are both well adjusted to our new routine, a friend invited us to spend a few days in his apartment in Cyprus.
I am an Italian citizen, but since we’ve only been married less than two years, Rula (my wife) does not yet have an EU passport. In preparing for our trip last September, Rula had to apply for a visa from the local Cypriot consulate. Just for context, Rula has traveled extensively to Europe and the USA prior to our marriage.
Rula’s request for a visa resulted in a request on the part of the Cypriot Consulate for either of two things: a hotel reservation or an invitation from the Mukhtar of Limassol. Despite informing them that we would be staying with a friend and could produce an invitation letter from him if they liked, the Cypriot Consulate insisted we required either a hotel reservation or an invitation from the Mukhtar.
Since we were not about to request nor, if we did, were we going to get an invitation from the Mukhtar in due time, we reluctantly opted to make a spurious online reservation at a hotel. Sure enough, cancelling said reservation created some complications necessitating amongst other things a call to an Expedia call center somewhere in South East Asia. But I digress.
Imagine my surprise when after complying with what can only be described as inane regulation Rula obtained a visa for… 8 days… one week…. A one week visa for the wife of an EU citizen to travel to a presumed EU member country.
So I thought I’d lodge a formal complaint with the local EU ambassador with the expectation that nothing would be done. But at least, I would make my feelings known officially.
Sure enough, my first email to ambassador Wronecka resulted in absolutely nothing.
I followed up the first email with a second email that was designed to convey mild irritation at being ignored by a civil servant and an institution that is supposed to look after our well being which, of course, should encompass passing judgment on just similar, albeit, silly situations.
Second email; no response.
I am not in the best of moods these days and if you read this blog you will know our respective governments in the West have become rather fascist in nature and it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the citizens of Europe and the USA are being robbed blind. So, I decided to write a third email to my EU ambassador.
Now, keep in mind that I was not at all sure the email address I was using to contact the EU embassy was valid. It is a generic email that I thought was valid because I received it from a reliable source but, since my missives had not been acknowledged, maybe, just maybe, the email was not valid…
So this was my third email:
Dear Ms. Wronecka,
Further to my two previous emails over the past two months that have yet to be acknowledged, you will be glad to hear I have come to terms with both the prejudicial treatment the Cypriot consulate reserved for my wife and your condescending attitude towards my complaint of same.
I imagine that high officials in the neo EU Politburo such as yourself cannot entertain even the mere thought of having to deal with a citizen complaint. After all, in the new EU post Lisbon Treaty, citizens are but chattel meant to keep your masters in Bruxelles and you in the style of life you feel entitled to.
It is nonetheless difficult for me to fathom why you should so obstinately refuse to even acknowledge my inquiry. Even assuming you felt my complaint was groundless, standard procedure dictates that you should reply with any of the three form letters you have ready for just such pesky citizens; if for no other reason than to appease the plebs so they should not notice how the EU Politiburo is hell bent on plundering them.
But sarcasm aside, I am genuinely interested in understanding what happened. Why not even bother with one of the standard replies full of pablum that administrations like yours are so well known for or, at the very least, just a stern “your complaint is groundless because that’s how we do business”? Has your contempt for the common citizen reached such a level that you cannot even bother to delegate this simple, albeit annoying, task to anyone in your bloated overpaid staff to carry out? Do you really feel so far superior to the mundane circumstances of the people that pay your salary that you feel no compunction to arrogate the privilege to dismiss us as inconvenient interruptions to your primary task of pleasing your masters in Bruxelles?
Let me assure you the sarcasm in my words is intentional. Allow me to illustrate what grieves me so that you could either pursue your professional prerogative and seek to rectify your supercilious stance or, as I suspect is more likely, so that you may have some entertaining reading material with which to endear yourself to your masters whom whilst sipping coffee at the office will undoubtedly delight at your condescending detachment from the every day reality of the citizenry. I will reduce my argument to the most basic terms so as not to confuse you with the details.
I have a grievance. I turn to you for judgment as you are my representative to other members of the EU. You may not feel my grievance has any grounds for being but even so, simple decency not to mention basic diplomatic practice is to acknowledge my grievance and either follow up or dismiss it.
You failed on all counts. In fact, in doing so, you prove that despite the EU’s self proclaimed status as holders of the moral high ground you are nothing but a kleptocracy.
Depending on how well you grasp the English language you may surmise I am not a happy camper.
Since I am at it, allow me to also get something else off my chest. I did not vote for a united Europe as it has been proposed. I certainly did not agree to the Lisbon treaty. As far as I am concerned, the entire EU idea as it has been conceived is nothing but a construct with blatant fascist tendencies. And you, my dearest Ms. Wronecka, are glaring confirmation of my fears.
Although my original email to you complaining about what I consider discriminatory behavior bordering on harassment on the part of the administration of a presumed EU member state may be considered an unfounded nuisance, the least one should expect is the standard answer replete with platitudes that the EU administration is so adept at dishing out. But the fact that you should not even have bothered to delegate the task of sending a trite reply to one of the minions in your ridiculously overstaffed administration indicates the degree of your contempt for citizens.
Fortunately, not all is lost for the common citizen. As I sit back to contemplate the all too predictable train wreck that is the EU (I run a blog on such matters too should you be interested), I rejoice in the knowledge that a large number of redundant civil servants such as yourself, whom have lost any sense of what their function should embody, will soon be forced off the gravy-train that is the EU. The reason you are about to be pushed off the gravy train is simple. That is, although the organization and power structure of the EU have borrowed liberally from the strategies of previous totalitarian governments such as the Reich and Nomenklatura, because you have been more greedy, more arrogant and, let’s face it, more ignorant and short sighted, all you have been able to create is an organization that after only ten years is the laughing stock of the world. And now that the easy money has run out, you and your masters find yourselves at the mercy of Germany and the USA’s Fed. My how the self proclaimed great have fallen!
So enjoy your last few months in office at the EU and start working towards preserving some type of official position in your country of origin. Because from where I am standing, you can only keep plundering the EU for a very short period of time after which you shall either be out on your ass or you will have to beg the politicians of your country to find you another office from which you can keep suckling at the public teat.
You will not be missed Ms. Wronecka. As the German television video below shows, the people are on to you and your acolytes.
The above email duly sent, nothing happened. That is, nothing happened for about one week.
Suddenly, a few days ago, “Caterina” a very pleasant lady with a mild Spanish accent called and identified herself as the EU Ambassador’s secretary. Caterina apologized profusely for what happened and went on to take the blame for the mishap saying she has just taken over the position and my emails “slipped through the cracks”.
Hmmm!… Considering there was one month between emails, I find that hard to believe but… anything is possible I suppose. Stranger things have happened. Nonetheless, for a secretary at that level to let things of this nature “slip” through the cracks twice is unlikely. Would you not say?
Better still. As I am typing this blog post today, I received another telephone call. This time it was Dana from the Cypriot consulate. Once again, Dana apologized profusely for what happened and even though she stated that they abided to current legislation, she was nonetheless sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused us. Dana also offered that I could visit the consulate and meet with the ambassador. However, Dana did not say what meeting the ambassador would achieve. I mean, since my complaint is groundless because this is current legislation, then what good would meeting the ambassador do? Maybe they think that I would be placated if I felt awed and rewarded to be in the presence of a high official? I guess we’ll never know.
The moral of the story
The moral of the story is this. I am a nobody. Legislation is legislation and at a personal level, there is very little I can do to influence it.
Very likely and as is standard procedure in Europe and particularly southern European countries, I suspect the ambassador planned to ignore my inquiry expecting I would go away. Southern Europeans are particularly inured to faceless unaccountable administrations.
If indeed that was her strategy, having ignored my first email, the ambassador should also have let slide the third one and nobody would have been any the wiser.
But true to the psychological profile of self absorbed public officials the ambassador could not let the third email slide because my tirade likely hit a raw nerve. The same nerve that animates public officials to believe they are essential, indispensible cogs of an administration rather than servants for the advancement of society.
And that is exactly the problem. High officials in the West today no longer seek office with the aim to serve the collective good. Rather, the aim of politicians and civil servants is to make a career that inherently means their primary directive is to advance the cause of the administration they serve. The Byzantine structure of the EU, the undemocratic system of appointments, the pettiness and the arrogance of its officials is glaring proof of the inanity, the wastefulness, the arrogance (for the second time) and, yes, the aberrant nature of this behemoth that today is overtly trampling on all those democratic principles it demands other countries (usually developing countries) to uphold. How can we justify a European president and concomitant body of apparatchiks that despite having executive power have not been elected by the people? How can we justify parachuting Prime Ministers into position without due process? How can the suppression of a popular referendum be justified? How can comments by EU officials like the one reported in the Telegraph article of February 2011 be justified when it states: “As Irish voters headed for the polling booths on Friday, the European Commission bluntly declared that the terms of the EU-IMF bailout “must be applied” whatever the will of Ireland’s people or regardless of any change of government.
The list goes on and on spanning the past decade and the aberration is gradually worsening.
Does it sound like I have a beef?
Some hours after I wrote the above, I have received an email purportedly from Madame the Ambassador herself. Obviously, this should have been the response to my very first email. It is indeed a letter full of platitudes stating that that’s the way business is done and I have no grounds for my complaint. Had this letter been sent to me two months ago, I would have taken my lumps and faded into the night… Except that it wasn’t, so I got ticked off, and I didn’t…
Dear Mr Romero,
I would like to thank you for your email and all details concerning visa application of your wife. I have immediately send your letter to the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Amman.
As you know Cyprus is not yet in the Schengen area, although many EU regulations apply to this country.
Applications shall be examined and decided on by Consuls who are directly involved in visa process and each of them is obliged to take into consideration all information and documents provided by the applicant. During the examination process of an application additional documents and information might be requested. It is crucial in order to give the most adequate decision.
Multiple entry visa (Schengen or national, like in this case) should be issued to facilitate travel for frequent or regular travellers. The period of validity of a visa and the length of the authorised stay is always based on the examination conducted by competent authorities (Consuls).
Decision that was taken by the Cypriot Consul does not contradict with the right of free movement enjoyed by third-country nationals who are family members of UE citizens. I understand that you and your wife are disappointed about the outcome of the case, therefore I expect that you will receive a separate respond from the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Amman clarifying your concern.
Ambassador / Head of Delegation
Delegation of the European Union
So, it appears that the Consul has ultimate say in how many days a visa should grant to a “third country” national. Thus, although the decision taken in the instance of my wife’s application does not contradict her right of free movement, granting 8 days was clearly a daft decision in light of Rula’s travel profile prior to our marriage and the fact that she is now married to an EU citizen.