"Yesterday, I met the vice president of the European Commission. Apart from discussing bilateral relations, we also spoke about Indonesias request to get visa-free entry into the Schengen area," Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L.P. Marsudi stated here on Tuesday.
According to Marsudi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conveyed some facts to Vice President of European Commission Frans Timmermans that strengthens Indonesias case regarding the implementation of a visa-free policy to enter the Schengen countries.
She emphasized that Indonesia is the first Southeast Asian country that has a partnership and cooperation agreement along with a forestry agreement with the European Union (EU) and also has the biggest economic potential in Southeast Asia.
The minister also remarked that the rate of rejection of visa applications from Indonesia is very low, at 1.1 percent in 2014, and the number of violations of immigration regulations of the EU by Indonesians is very minimal.
"I presented data regarding the number of Indonesians going to Schengen countries every year. I also conveyed data on the rejection percentage of visa applications submitted to the embassies of the Schengen countries, which is very small. The rejection rate is only about one percent," Marsudi revealed.
"With all this data, it is appropriate that Indonesians visiting Schengen countries should be given free visas," she emphasized.
Marsudi suggested that the Schengen member countries should also reciprocate by adopting measures such as issuing free visas to Indonesians similar to the tourist visa-free policy implemented by the Government of Indonesia for most of the Schengen member countries.
The tourist visa-free policy for Schengen countries by the Indonesian government was applied recently through Presidential Decree No. 69 of 2015.
"Indonesia has provided free visa facility to most EU countries, including for the citizens of Schengen countries. Of the 45 EU countries, the citizens of 15 countries are already availing the free visa facility, which translates to one-third of the Schengen area. So, our reason for requesting free Schengen visas for Indonesians is strong," Marsudi affirmed.
The minister has not set a target regarding the timeframe for the implementation of a Schengen visa exemption policy for Indonesians.
"We have not set a target, but we are still trying. This policy is their right. We can only negotiate as optimally as possible," she said.
She stated that the response of the European Commission to the Schengen visa exemption request is quite positive, and this effort will be continued through bilateral relations between Indonesia and each Schengen country.
"We will follow up on this effort on the bilateral side. We have already taken the necessary steps with regard to the European Commission side. We are intensively working for visa exemption, either through the embassies of the Schengen countries in Indonesia and our embassies in the Schengen countries and the EU," Marsudi added.
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