KuwaitPolitics

EU official’s presence in Kuwait symbolizes nearing Schengen visa-free travel

Kuwait: Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas focused his talks with Kuwaiti officials on near prospected Schengen visa-free travel, “promoting our European way of life,” hoping to further amplify bilateral ties.

In an exclusive interview with KUNA at the EU Residence, Schinas indicated that the discussions with the Kuwaiti leaders, during his two-day official visit to Kuwait, dealt with scopes of cooperation in the sectors of education, security, mobility, youth and skills.

He looks forward to strengthening excellent bilateral relations and building on the strong partnership, as the process of Schengen visa exemption travel for Kuwaitis nears final stages with the EU parliament voting on the matter soon.

Schinas met with National Assembly Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Talal Khaled Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at the National Assembly, while he described the Kuwaiti parliament as a “good mix of interlocutors both from government but also from legislative powers that was really very constructive and very informative.” Consequently, he went on to say, “I clearly know that the parliament in Kuwait is probably the only parliament in the Gulf that has legitimacy linked to the electoral process, which is a very positive thing for us that pertains to the parliament constitutional reality, in this case the 60-year-old constitutional reality,” commenting that it is clear that with his presence in the parliament, that this was a hub of political legitimacy with genuine political exchange.

The topics discussed at that meeting were “the ever-increasing convergence between the EU and Kuwait, in the belief of the meet of rules based on international order in these difficult times with war happening with a lot of global uncertainties, it is more important than ever that the EU and Kuwait understand the world in the same way,” he noted.

“Kuwait has followed a very principled stance in the UN, in the voting,” he said, mentioning that “we discussed this global geopolitical picture and the way that we see international developments from the same perspective,” along with the Schengen visa waiver.

Regarding the Schengen visa for Kuwaiti citizens, he pointed out that they have already proposed the development earlier this year, and “now the final decision will be taken first by the European parliament and then by our member states. This is how decisions are made in the EU.” Accordingly, “the crucial vote in the European parliament will happen next week and a bit later, our member states will decide,” Schinas underscored.

Incidentally, “I have every reason to believe that the vote will be positive on both sides, although it is always a risk to predict when all this will finalize but I can reasonably say soon,” he indicated.

He continued to say, “the final sentence in my reply. I want to be very clear that this was not a gift to Kuwait, this was not something we do as a favor to Kuwait.” Instead, “this is the result of a very strong compliance by Kuwait to very specific and demanding requirements and reforms that are linked to this process. It is something that the government and the people of Kuwait worked for. It is not a free gift,” he underlined.

His presence in Kuwait “is a testament of our ever-increasing cooperation across the policy spectrum but in particular to symbolize the fact that we are now entering the last stages of providing visa-free status for Kuwaiti citizens to travel to the EU,” Schinas stated.

This was a long process in which Kuwait has done all the necessary steps complied with the conditions and “I wanted my presence here in this country to symbolize that we are now nearing the conclusion of this process,” he added.

On another subject, “promoting our European way of life” is a new job that has been created for the first time in the European Commission that has two sets, families and clusters of policies, he pointed out.

“One is policy that pertains to a Europe that protects and that means migration, security and public health. There is another cluster of policy which is a Europe of opportunities, mobility,” he explained.

“Then we have policies like education, culture, youth, sport, mobility and skills. This is for the first time, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen decided to cluster all these different policies under one single roof to improve interdependence and cross-fertilization instead of working in silos around these areas,” he noted.

Earlier, he referred to the convergence between the EU and Kuwait that will be amplified now as a result of the Schengen visa exemption travel.

Therefore, “it is a unique opportunity that is opening up to broaden our cooperation in all sorts of mobility projects for young Kuwaitis to familiarize themselves with the wealth of our educational systems in Europe, our training systems and one area in which I think is a lot to be gained from this cooperation is the area of security studies, cyber security skills and learning,” he pointed out.

Additionally, this is the area he is responsible for and “would very much like to see maybe young Kuwaiti professionals working with us, training with us, learning what we have to offer,” he said, adding that “these skills will be very valuable in this country and this is an area in which Europe has made strides in the recent years.” Today is the EU official’s final day in Kuwait. He will start his day with a visit to Al-Salam Palace and then he “will speak to the Kuwaiti diplomatic academy students, future diplomats. I will speak to them and I will also listen to them and also I have invited all ambassadors of our EU member states to Kuwait to be there with me and then it is an opportunity to reiterate to the diplomats of tomorrow, the people who will represent Kuwait internationally in the years to come,” he commented.

“The EU is a force of good, a friendly force for this country and I think it is an excellent opportunity to engage with these young people at this specific moment,” he added.

Later this week, Schinas will go to the UAE and Qatar.

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