Belarus left behind

Our country is ranked fifth among six countries in the Eastern Partnership Visa Liberalization Index, a report published by the Stefan Batory Foundation and the Visa-free Europe Coalition every four months to show the progress that has been made by all the Eastern Partnership participating countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – on the way to visa-free travel with the European Union.

According to the report, only Azerbaijan had done less than Belarus.

“Belarus is the only country out of the Eastern Partnership states that does not have official visa dialogue with the EU,” the report says. It ranks at the bottom in the External Relations and Fundamental Rights and the Public Security and Order categories.

At the same time, Belarus has made some important steps to meet the benchmarks for visa liberalization, the report says. The most considerable progress is made in the area of migration and border management. Unlike Ukraine or Azerbaijan, Belarus is equipped to start issuing biometric passports as of 2012, and pilot biometric passports have already been issued.

In order to achieve visa-free regime with the EU, each country needs to meet a number of criteria listed in Action Plans for Visa Liberalization. The criteria are generally similar for all Eastern Partnership countries. So far only three out of the six EaP states have been granted Action Plans, however, all the six countries have been working towards visa liberalisation and meeting the criteria.

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