Senate president lauds ties with Kuwait
KUWAIT: The President of the Belgian Senate Christine Defraigne reiterated late on Thursday her country’s support to Kuwait’s request for a Schengen visa waiver. Kuwait’s contributions in the field of humanitarian action would boost its chances in having its citizens be exempted from the Schengen visa requirement, Defraigne said in an exclusive interview with KUNA.
The visa waiver request is subjected to specific requirements and procedures that eventually must be ratified by the European Parliament, she said. Belgium seeks to reduce the wait time and speed up completion of the Kuwaiti application with an approval, Defraigne said, noting that the request procedures were delayed due to technical reasons.
She also denied recent reports on Israeli efforts to undermine Kuwait’s application for a Schengen visa waiver and any Kuwaiti initiative within international organizations. The Schengen visa waiver is solely an EU concern and decision, Defraigne emphasized, adding that Israel is not an EU member-state; thus it does not have the power to affect or discuss such a matter with the Union.
The Belgian Senate president lauded her country’s diplomatic relationship with Kuwait that dates back more than 50 years. She also said her visit aims to enhance Belgian-Kuwaiti ties, back them on all levels, and discuss a number of important subjects of mutual interest with top Kuwaiti officials. The two countries share several joint issues such as the war on terror, Defraigne said, noting that Belgium and Kuwait have both faced a number of terrorist attacks in past years.
Counter-terrorism efforts became a global concern as same terrorist groups that targeted Belgium have also targeted Kuwait, she said, adding that such efforts require collective cooperation and action. Despite the fact that Belgium and Kuwait are not “big” geographically; they, however, share common distinctive such as their moderate approach and wisdom in solving various issues, said Defraigne. The two countries also use the dialogue approach to tackle crisis and disputes in their regions, and to enhance their relations with their neighbors, said the Senate president.
Adopting dialogue is so essential for ending the ongoing crisis in the region, particularly the Gulf rift, she said, praising, in this regard, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s role in bringing viewpoints closer. Furthermore, Defraigne described Kuwait as a moderate and peaceful country that constantly aspires to find peaceful options and solutions for regional and international crises.
She also praised the Kuwaiti democratic experience and mentioned her visit to the National Assembly and meeting with Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem, who gave her a copy of the Kuwaiti Constitution. The Kuwaiti democratic experience enjoys diversity and independent observation on the government’s performance, Defraigne said. The Kuwaiti parliament deals with political disputes in the country in a very civilized manner and through dialogue, giving a “living” example on how democracy should be practiced, she said. Kuwait has also significant and influential role in the region’ stability, she said, stressing the need to finding peaceful solutions to several issues in the Middle East, notably improving the living conditions of people fleeing their war-torn countries.
On the ongoing refugees’ crisis faced by the EU, Defraigne mentioned that it is a “very” important issue and one of the reasons behind her current visit to the region. She also warned of the possibilities of facing larger number of migrants, who fled their countries to Europe via crossing the Mediterranean Sea, if a peaceful solution for the Middle East crisis is not reached soon. Europe has not faced such a crisis since World War II, Defraigne said urging EU members to consolidate all their efforts toward finding a solution to end the suffering of millions of refugees.
She also noted the EU has not formed new legislations on dealing with the refugees, she noted, adding that talks were held in that regard on finding solutions for this crisis facing Europe. EU members must take part in the efforts to host these refugees in accordance with international laws and regulations, Defraigne said. The EU shares the burden of hosting fleeing refugees, she said, adding that the Union should, out of its political and diplomatic principles, find a joint solution to end this problem.
On the recent Catalonia region crisis in Spain, Defraigne affirmed her country’s faith in dialogue and rejection of violence, indicating that dialogue would prevent violence and solve the problem. Spain must implement the rule of law and hold a fair trial for Catalonia’s government and officials in accordance with the country’s constitution and law, she said. The Belgian Senate president also said that Catalonia’s dismissed President Carles Puigdemont will be treated at the moment as a European citizen.
On Brexit talks and its impact on EU, Defraigne said that the UK is still a member-state and that UK-EU negotiations are currently at the first stage, expressing hope to find a clear vision on Brexit in the coming months. By exiting the EU, the UK would lose all the privileges provided by the Union, including membership of the European Economic Community and European Space Agency, said the Belgian Senate chief.
However, exiting the Union does not end European countries’ partnerships with UK, especially in economy, she said, describing Britain as an “important” trade partner to Belgium. The Brexit crisis has already impacted several Belgian companies that are linked by commercial deals with the UK, Defraigne noted, expressing her hope to find an agreement on the economic level that could satisfy both sides. During her visit, Defraigne has met with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and later with HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on Wednesday. The Belgian Senate president and her accompanying delegation arrived on Tuesday on a four-day official visit to the country. – KUNA