No date has yet been set for the start of visa facilitation talks between Belarus and the European Union, Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna told news agency BelaPAN in Minsk on December 13.
According to the official, the Belarusian ministries and government agencies are discussing the country’s negotiating stance at the coming talks. ‘No schedule has been agreed upon with the EU so far, but I don’t think that we will be protracting the process,’ she stressed.
It is to be recalled that Belarus proposed starting negotiations on liberalising visa regime with the European Union during the third Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. The participants look ahead to the launch of negotiations of Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with Belarus, the Joint Declaration of the EaP summit said.
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.