Visa-free travel agreement boosts Brunei, Russia ties | Inquirer News

Visa-free travel agreement boosts Brunei, Russia ties

/ 03:51 PM November 13, 2017

The agreement between the Government of Brunei Darussalam and the Government of the Russian Federation on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements for Holders of Ordinary Passports that was signed on November 8, 2017 marks a major step forward in the bilateral relations between the two countries.

This was said by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Brunei Darussalam, Vladlen Semivolos during an interview with the Weekend Bulletin yesterday.


“This remarkable event marks a major step forward in the bilateral relations which will serve as a driving force for the development of multifaceted ties between our countries,” said the ambassador.

“Until now, the privilege of visa-free travel was enjoyed only by diplomats and holders of official or service passports. And today we are proud to announce that all citizens of Russia and Brunei who hold ordinary passports no longer need to worry about visa formalities.”


According to the agreement, the citizens of the two countries holding valid ordinary passports may enter into, exit from, transit through and uninterruptedly stay in the territory of the other country without visas for a period not exceeding 14 days from the date of entry, provided that the stay is not to be used for employment, study or engagement in any kind of income-generating activity.

The ambassador said that the signing of the agreement is a result of dedicated efforts by Russia and Brunei to facilitate cooperation in various fields.

He shared that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin devoted personal attention to the matter during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Russia-Asean Summit in Sochi last year.

“Stressing the importance of eliminating visa barriers to five additional impetuses to the deepening of friendly relations between the two nations, the leaders took a principle decision to conclude the Visa Waiver document.”

“We would like to highlight our gratitude to His Majesty for paving the way to the signing of the agreement,” said the ambassador. “Our sincere appreciation goes also to the Bruneian governmental agencies which were actively involved in its preparation, namely the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism; Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; and the Attorney General’s Chambers, for their hard work and commitment making the visa-free travels possible.”

He went on to note that following the decision taken on the highest level, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II of Brunei Darussalam Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng signed the agreement during their meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“We are convinced that the agreement will serve as a powerful incentive for the expansion of the scope of bilateral contacts,” said the ambassador. “As underlined by Sergey Lavrov, this is important for people to people communications, business relations, development of trade as well as humanitarian projects.”


The ambassador said that Russian businessmen have become frequent visitors to Brunei exploring cooperation opportunities together with Bruneian counterparts in the fields of agriculture, energy, services, tourism and IT. “We are sure that visa exemption will encourage further exchanges between Russian and Bruneian entrepreneurs helping to implement mutually beneficial projects.

“We are also looking forward to the positive impact of the visa free regime on the cooperation in the field of tourism,” he continued, noting that Southeast Asia is a popular region among Russian tourists attracted by its gentle climate and exotic flora and fauna.

“It is worth noting that Thailand is visited by up to two million Russian tourists every year, a huge number of tourists come to neighbouring Bali, Malaysia and the Philippines, while Brunei with its authentic culture and one of a kind traditions remains unfairly undiscovered. Bringing our tourists to Brunei will be a major boost to local trade and economy.”

He said that Russia in turn offers Bruneian tourists numerous beautiful cities and towns with their own unique spirit and architecture, historic and natural places of interest. Russia is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations with up to 30 million annual visitors.

“Among its world famous attractions are the Moscow Kremlin – the monumental architectural complex in the heart of our capital, Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow – a foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world, Hermitage in Saint Petersburg – the world’s largest museum of art and culture, and Lake Baikal in Siberia – the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22-23 per cent of the world’s fresh surface water and many more.”

The ambassador noted that, being home to 22 million Muslims, Russia is of particular interest as an Islamic tourism destination with developed Halal infrastructure, hotels, restaurants and, noticeably, over 8,000 mosques. He shared that these include, to name a few, the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, the famous mosque in Grozny known as the ‘Heart of the Chechen Republic’, the beautiful blue mosque of Saint Petersburg and Kul Sharif Mosque in the city of Kazan.

He also said that the embassy is currently working with the biggest tourist agencies in Brunei towards utilising the full potential of bilateral tourism introduced by the Visa Waiver Agreement. “At the beginning of next year we are expecting exchanges of business delegations in the sphere of leisure and tourism with a view to establish direct contacts and to discover each other’s markets to be prepared to meet the highest expectations of the travellers from the two countries.”

Another priority area in the Russia-Brunei relations which will benefit from the Visa Waiver Agreement is the humanitarian sphere, he said, noting that in particular, educational ties are demonstrating promising dynamics.

“Last April, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) established cooperation with Saint-Petersburg State University. Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) is actively developing contacts with Russian Islamic universities. Even though for study purposes students will need to apply for visas, they as well as university lecturers and academicians can make use of the visa waiver while attending conferences and short-term exchanges.

“Indeed, Russia-Brunei relations in recent years demonstrate impressive progress on multiple tracks and all levels,” he said.

He noted that the Speaker of the Legislative Council of Brunei Darussalam, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib conducted an official visit to Russia in October last year that laid down a foundation for future interparliamentary contacts.

He also noted that in August the Commissioner of the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), Dato Paduka Seri Haji Mohd Jammy bin Haji Muhd Shah Al-Islam led the delegation of the RBPF to Moscow on the invitation of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

The major event in bilateral military ties was the visit to the Muara Port of the Task Force of the Russian Pacific Fleet last October, he said.

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