Barroso: Belarus wants visa regime facilitation


Today Belarus has proposed starting negotiations on liberalising visa regime with the European Union, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said speaking about the results of the EaP summit in Vilnius.

‘Today, we have also signed a Visa Facilitation Agreement with Azerbaijan, which will make the process of applying for an European Union visa easier. By the way, with Azerbaijan, today we’ve heard the President and also the members of the European Union showing their commitment to the progress in our strategic modernisation partnership. And today also, we knew about the willingness of Belarus to negotiate a Visa Facilitation Agreement. I’m sure this will be for the benefit of the Belarusian citizens, especially their young people. And I also hope that the future democratisation of Belarus will enable the country to fully seize the potential of this partnership. So, the point I want to make clear is the following: the Eastern Partnership is not just about the economy or not just about abstract concepts; it’s about concrete benefits for citizens, removing barriers, enabling people to meet each other. It is in fact a transformational project of the highest importance’, Mr Barroso said.

The participants of the Vilnius Summit look ahead to the launch of negotiations of Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with Belarus, the Joint Declaration of the EaP summit reads.

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Currently Belarusians pay €60 for a Schengen visa, while the Russians, Ukrainians and many other Eastern EU neighbours pay significantly less – €35.Nevetherless, Belarus has been keeping the lead in the number of Schengen visas received for years.
Easier visa rules for Belarusians could undoubtedly contribute to the country`s democratization. The EU has repeatedly invited Minsk for talks on easier visa rules, but the Belarusian authorities kept ignoring these calls.

www.belsat.eu/en

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