Kazakhstan wants visa-free regime with Europe

Senior correspondent
Роман Василенко во время брифинга
Roman Vasilenko at a press briefing. Photo by the Central Communications Service.

Kazakhstan wants European countries to implement a visa-free regime for the country’s citizens, according to deputy minister of foreign affairs Roman Vasilenko.

The official noted that the Foreign Ministry is still trying to expand the visa-free space in Europe for Kazakhstanis. Last year, the country signed agreements on a visa-free regime with Albania, Andorra, Serbia and Montenegro (a seasonal visa-free regime).

In 2017, Kazakhstan has introduced a visa-free regime for E.U. member states, although it was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

«We are now talking about softening of the visa regime for Kazakhstanis. I mean cutting the cost of Schengen visas for Kazakhstanis as well as the number of documents required for applying for such a visa. We always bring up this issue during our negotiations with the E.U.,» Vasilenko said.

He also noted that the ministry pursues a faster Schengen visa issuing process for Kazakhstanis and has already been negotiating with its European counterparts on the issue.

In 2020, the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the E.U. and Kazakhstan entered into force. Among many other issues covered by EPCA, the document urges the two sides to start negotiations on softening a visa regime to facilitate contact between regular people through travel.

Vasilenko also spoke about the situation with the so-called blacklist which Kazakhstan is allegedly on. According to the deputy foreign minister, there is no blacklist of countries in the E.U. However, any of the organization’s member states may require additional documents for a visa, which is exactly what happened to Kazakhstan.

Currently, the country’s MFA is trying to find out which one of the European countries has introduced new requirements for Kazakhstanis.

«Kazakhstan was outside of this list for consultations for years and now one country has initiated this. We want to know which country has done this. We need to know the logic behind the move,» Vasilenko stated.

Nevertheless, Kazakhstanis still need 15 days before their visa application will be officially reviewed. In other words, at this level nothing has changed for regular people, the official noted.

At the end of February, some media reported that Kazakhstan would be on the Schengen Area blacklist since March 1. An official spokesperson of Kazakhstan’s MFA denied this report though.

Kazakhstani citizens can travel to 76 countries without visas. As of Q3 of 2022, the country was 73rd in the global passport index. The first country in this rating is Japan.

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