We are not diplomats, but one of the most important principles of diplomatic relations that have developed over the years and centuries is the principle of reciprocity. If a country offends or mistreats the citizens of my country, I can respond with the same kind of treatment against that country. If it is a democratic state, and the one who governs it is held accountable for the slightest of his mistakes, then he, i.e. the decision maker, will be reluctant to take those decisions for which he does not have a concrete justification.
Today I am talking about the Polish Republic, or as we used to call it Poland when it was under the Communist rule. We were among the first to recognize its regime immediately after it emancipated itself from the yoke of Soviet communist authoritarianism. However, I noticed in the recent years – prior to the COVID-19 era – that everytime I enter or exit that country through the official entry/exit points, I have had to undergo a long delay for immigration clearance, unlike the other travelers even though I hold a special passport.
I asked some regular travelers to that country about this, and they told me that they too are given the same treatment even though they visit that country as tourists – with hard currency to spend and without the need to work or take from the blessings of that country.
The latest news I heard from the regular visitors to that country is that a holder of a Kuwaiti passport is banned from entering Poland. This came as a surprise, and raised many exclamation marks. The friend who complained to me is now in Turkey, from where he will fly to Britain and spend about two weeks there.
Undoubtedly, Britain is decades ahead of Poland, but despite that, my friend was informed from Britain that a Kuwaiti citizen or holder of a Kuwaiti passport cannot board a British or Polish plane heading to Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. He called Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inquire, and they confirmed the news to him and expressed their dissatisfaction with the issue.
They informed him that they are now entering into a diplomatic dialogue with the Poles who refuse to allow holders of Kuwaiti passports to enter their land without giving any specific reasons. It is worth mentioning that no other European countries have this problem or such unjustified obstinacy when it comes to adding a citizen coming from a safe country within the list published two weeks ago.
This matter is now being discussed with the European Union to which Poland had joined recently after its liberation from Soviet influence. The reason may be the European differences and the principle of reciprocity, which is outside the scope of collective action in the European Union, and the understanding of some European Union member states that the list of countries banned from entering the EU is based on the nationalities and not because they came from those countries due to the spread of the virus.
This issue has become political rather than due to health considerations. Through these modest articles, we call upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs the honorable Sheikh Dr Ahmed Al-Nasser, the honorable Undersecretary Khaled Al-Jarallah, and the person in charge of the file of our relations with the European Union the honorable Walid Al-Khubaizy to issue an immediate decision to treat Polish citizens reciprocally in line with the prevailing diplomatic norms.
We have undeservingly and unfairly received enough insults and humiliation from the citizens of those countries that we consider as friendly. This is another topic that we hope we will not open, because the one who is wrong must correct his mistake and realize it on his own. Lately, it seems that things have started getting out of hand.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli is a former Oil Minister writing in the Arab Times.
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