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    A French tourist in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. file photo

    Too Young for Tashkent: Uzbekistan Signals It's Wary of Rebellious French Youth

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    Uzbekistan will scrap visas for tourists from 15 countries as of April 2017; however, French tourists may only enter the former Soviet republic visa-free if they are 55 years old or older.

    Uzbekistan has announced plans to loosen its restrictions on tourism, canceling visa requirements for tourists from 15 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and Japan.

    Tourist visa requirements for citizens of these countries will be annulled as of April 1, 2017; they will be able to vacation in Uzbekistan for up to 30 days.

    The landlocked Asian nation's new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has also decreed that tourists from 12 other countries, including Belgium and France, will no longer need visas, as long as they're over 55 years of age.

    Apart from France and Belgium, this list includes Indonesia, China, Malaysia, the United States, Vietnam, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

    In an interview with Sputnik France, Rene Cagnat, a French expert on Central Asia, pointed to Uzbekistan's security concerns when it came to cancelling visa requirements for tourists from France.

    "In our European community, Belgium and France remain the countries which cause a maximum mistrust as far as Islamist-related problems are concerned. We should not forget that the [terrorist] attacks in Belgium and France were the deadliest as compared with other countries. I would attribute this distrust toward the youth to a terrorist threat," Cagnat said.

    He said that France should learn a lesson from all this and that the problem should be resolved before "the fire is sparked."

    "Uzbeks support an authoritarian, even dictatorial approach towards issues related to the maintenance of order. The youth of France don't have a very good reputation from this point of view, because France is seen as a country which is now a little less safe than others. We must learn from it, for the problem does exist and we should extinguish the fire before it breaks out," he added.

    On the evening of November 13, 2015, a group of terrorists carried out a series of attacks in different spots in Paris, claiming 130 lives and leaving more than 350 wounded.

    Following the attacks, France declared a state of emergency, which was extended for an additional six months in July after a deadly truck attack in the seaside resort of Nice.

    On July 14, a truck rammed into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the southern French city of Nice on July 14, killing at least 84 people and injuring many more.


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