BRUSSELS/MOSCOW: The European Commission adopted on Sept 8 specific rules on the issuing of multiple entry visas to Kuwaiti nationals, which are more favorable than the generic rules that applied to date. This new visa ‘cascade’ regime for Kuwaiti nationals applying for Schengen visas in Kuwait will see all eligible applicants, including first-time travelers, being issued with visas valid for 5 years, if the passport validity allows it.
According to the newly adopted visa ‘cascade’ regime for Kuwait, Kuwaiti nationals can now be issued with long-term, multiple-entry Schengen visas valid for five years. Where the validity of the visa would exceed that of the passport, a multiple-entry visa shall be issued with a period of validity ending three months before the expiry date of the passport. During the validity period of these visas, holders enjoy travel rights equivalent to visa-free nationals.
This decision is testament to the EU’s strong belief that Kuwait is an important partner for the EU. It also comes in the context of the EU’s Joint Communication on a “Strategic Partnership with the Gulf”, which also covers EU relations with Kuwait. One of the pillars of this EU Strategy is facilitating people-to-people contacts, and this new visa ‘cascade’ adaptation for Kuwait contributes to enhancing relations between Kuwaitis and Europeans.
The Schengen area consists of 27 European countries (of which 23 are EU states): Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah welcomed the European Commission’s announcement, saying this step reflects the high-level coordination and cooperation between Kuwait and the EU. Kuwait appreciates EU member states for their efforts that led to this announcement, Sheikh Salem said, adding the foreign ministry will continue working until Kuwait is granted Schengen visa waiver for its citizens. The foreign ministry’s efforts follow the political leadership’s instructions to fulfill citizens’ needs as a top priority in the government’s work program, the minister indicated.
Separately, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov said on Tuesday that his country has suggested visa-exemption for several countries including Kuwait. Russian News Agency (TASS) quoted Reshetnikov during the Eastern Economic Forum, held in Vladivostok, as saying that Russia was proposing the scheme for citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. He added that Russia is looking to increase tourist exchange with these countries, as they are working towards establishing a visa-free tourism system with countries of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper quoted Vice President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) Artur Muradyan as saying that scrapping tourist visas for these countries is of great importance, as it opens up new horizons for developing tourism in Russia. – Agencies