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Wednesday , February 8 2023

Schengen talks positive: Speaker

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Rights, women empowerment discussed

KUWAIT CITY, June 2: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim expressed optimism over the request of Kuwait to exempt its citizens from the Schengen visa requirements in a press conference on the sidelines of his official visit to Brussels, Belgium. He affirmed his meetings with the chairpersons of committees at the European Parliament (EP) yielded positive results, hinting on the committees’ support for the request of Kuwait. He clarified that the request includes the provision of facilities for Kuwaitis to own properties and invest in European Union member-countries. He added the Kuwaiti delegation responded to many questions on a plethora of issues like human rights, women empowerment and women participation in the legislature. During the visit, Al-Ghanim and his accompanying delegation met Chair of the Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula in the EP Hannah Neumann.

They discussed issues of mutual concern like women’s affairs and energy, in addition to obtaining support for Kuwait’s request to exempt its citizens from the Schengen visa requirements. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Undersecretary MP Obaid Al-Wasmi, Secretary of the union MP Hamad Al-Matar, and Ambassador of Kuwait to Belgium and Chairman of Kuwaiti delegations to the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jassem Al-Bedewi attended the meeting. Al-Ghanim and his accompanying delegation also had a meeting with EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Chair and Foreign Affairs Committee member Maria Arena.

They tackled human rights issues in the region, importance of strengthening cooperation between Kuwait’s National Assembly and the EP in finding plausible solutions to the humanitarian conditions in confl ict areas, and the request of Kuwait to exempt its citizens from the Schengen visa requirements. In a related development, Arena confirmed in a joint press conference with Al-Ghanim that the two parties had fruitful talks on human rights issues. She stressed the need for Europe and Kuwait to work on issues concerning both parties like the Schengen visa. She clarified that reciprocity is important to enable these parties to reach a common ground, indicating they tackled human rights issues and the role of Kuwait in overcoming regional challenges in this field. She added they also tackled the issues concerning Yemen and Palestine, emphasizing the need for regional partners to work hard in solving such issues.

In addition, Neumann expressed support for the Schengen visa exemption request of Kuwait; taking into consideration the role of Kuwait as a lead mediator and its unwavering support for the European Union (EU). She revealed that Kuwait and Qatar are on the list of countries which will be exempted from the Schengen visa requirements. She added the recommendation of the EU to exempt Kuwait from the Schengen visa requirements is very important, but the member-countries still need to discuss it further.

Al-Ghanim and his accompanying delegation also met with President of Socialists and Democrats in the EP Iratxe García Pérez. The Kuwaiti delegation replied to the queries of the party regarding vital issues like the empowerment of women; the conditions in Yemen, Syria and Iraq; Palestinian cause, and the Russian-Ukrainian war. Meanwhile, the parliamentary Public Funds Protection Committee on Thursday continued investigations into the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources’ (PAAAFR) distribution of plots to senior officials including former and incumbent ministers and MPs. Committee Chairman MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji disclosed that the committee reviewed the records of the distribution of plots according to the so-called ‘higher directives’.

He said the senior officials at PAAAFR did not clarify aspects of the ‘higher directives’, quoting two members of the committee in charge of distributing plots as saying that they were referring to the opinion of the chairperson of the panel based on a study conducted by the legal consultant, while the chairman of PAAAFR approves or rejects the recommendations. He added the committee asked for more information, including the list of recipients of the plots, to finalize its report on the issue.

On the other hand, MP Fares Al-Otaibi submitted a proposal to expedite the provision of the budget for establishing the exit and entry points in blocks one and two in Khaitan to be connected to the Sixth Ring Road. He said those residing in Khaitan are suffering due to the traffic jams caused by a huge number of vehicles – beyond the capacity of the existing exit and entry points. He added the Public Authority for Roads and Transportation (PART) conducted a study, which showed the Sixth Ring Road is higher than Khaitan; hence, the need to construct fl yovers to link the area with the Sixth Ring Road. He affirmed that Kuwait Municipality already approved the proposal, but the budget has not been allotted until now. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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