Polish MP Robert Tyszkiewicz has welcomed the recent expanding of the visa-free zone in Brest and Hrodna regions.
At the same time, Tyszkiewicz, Deputy Chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, called on president Alyaksandr Lukashenka to unfreeze the project on local border traffic between the states.
“We have been waiting for youe consent to local small border traffic. Please, open the door to a million Belarusians so that they could freely travel to Poland,” the politician said.
In 2008, Poland In February 2010, the Belarusian-Polish local border traffic agreement was signed by the countries’ ministers of foreign affairs; the Polish side ratified the agreement. It was to be put into practice in the spring of 2012 but in vain: the document reportedly failed to get through domestic procedures in Minsk. Later, the Belarusian authorities put the blame on Warsaw accusing the partners of defiance.
“There are no plans to start implementing a Belarusian-Polish interstate agreement on local border traffic any time soon because of the rather tough anti-Belarusian stance of the Polish government,” Andrey Savinykh, the then spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, said in March, 2013.
According to the agreement, people who reside in 89 Belarusian and 93 Polish settlements within 30 kilometres of the shared border will be allowed to cross the border without a visa if they have a special local border traffic permit, which will allow them to stay within the 30-kilometre border zone on the other side of the border for up to a total of 90 days within a year. The permit is expected to cost €20; children, pensioners and handicapped people would obtain it for free.