EU Envoy: Saudi anti-coronavirus measures unprecedented

Ambassador of the European Union to Saudi Arabia Michele Cervone D'urso

By Amal Al-Said

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

The Saudi government has taken unprecedented measures in countering the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with their quick preemptive move, said the Ambassador of the European Union to Saudi Arabia Michele Cervone D'urso, while adding, it is in a good position that will enable it to manage this pandemic and “flatten the curve”.

In an interview with Okaz on Saturday, the EU ambassador said: “The Kingdom took early, firm preemptive measures in restricting travel and movement and implementing mandatory social distancing. Now there is a partial curfew and lockdown in several cities, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. All are very well aware what they ought to do when the symptoms aggravate. In this regard, the public facilities had made preparations for any contingency quite early.”

He added: “These also include the important emergency measures to stimulate the economy and pave the way for recovery in the post-crisis stage, including the commitment to increase lending this year and the emergency measures for the private sector. All these will pose a special challenge when oil prices drop and the ensuing financial impacts set in.”

Speaking to Okaz in Riyadh, he said: “I was appointed about four years ago. During this period, I have seen directly the flexibility of the Saudi people and their generosity and sympathy.

“These are the qualities that have come to the surface during these difficult times. I support the great human efforts being exerted by the medical teams and those operating the basic services, especially since the coronavirus pandemic has brought humanity closer to one another.”

The EU ambassador said, “We are today facing a global problem. Therefore, blaming particular countries or regions instead of us all bearing the responsibility will not provide us with a solution. We have not blamed any country. We expect the same at a time when Europe is totally preoccupied in facing this crisis. On the contrary, the pandemic has emphasized the close ties between us.”

He stressed that the European Union has not shirked the responsibility to protect citizens (of EU countries) and people all over the world.

“We have dealt with the crisis with full transparency. The facts are important at this point of time. We have provided a lot of explicit and updated information regularly. The current time is inappropriate for unilateral measures or competition. We need collective work and enhancing the international capability to face the crises,” the EU ambassador stressed.

As to whether the EU was late in responding and showing solidarity with its member countries, like Italy, that were impacted by the crisis, he said: “We must warn against those who are exploiting the crisis to spread a particular political narrative.

“Let us look at the facts and figures. It may not be quite clearly visible to the eyes, but Germany and France have together donated a larger number of facemasks to Italy than China. Furthermore, Germany is receiving patients from France and northern Italy.”