Schengen visa facilitation and readmission talks held in Minsk

Representatives of the Belarusian Foreign and Interior Ministries met with experts of the European Commission in Minsk on Thursday to discuss draft visa facilitation and readmission agreements.

The draft visa facilitation agreement was discussed during a round of consultations at the Foreign Ministry.
Participants are looking the expediency of a whole range of specific proposals by the Belarusian government, Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, said at Thursday’s briefing. Belarus had sent these proposals to the European Commission after receiving a draft framework visa facilitation agreement from the Commission at the beginning of the year, he said.
According to Mr Mironchyk, the proposals reflect ‘progressive approaches’ behind similar agreements with other countries involved in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program and behind the liberalization of the EU’s visa policy in general.
A round of consultations on the readmission agreement will take place at the interior ministry later in the day, he said.
The Council of the European Union invited Belarus to start visa facilitation talks as far back as June 2011. However, the government ignored the invitation until the Third Eastern Partnership Summit, which was held in Vilnius in November 2013. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey announced at the summit that Belarus was ready to start talks with the EU on visa facilitation and readmission agreements.
The EU has already signed visa facilitation agreements with Russia and all Eastern Partnership countries except Belarus. The visa fee for the citizens of those countries has been lowered from €60 to €35., via BelaPAN
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