Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Foreign ministry hopeful that EU will soon reply to its facilitation and readmission proposals

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

The Belarusian foreign ministry hopes that the European Union will soon provide a reply to its proposals regarding visa facilitation and readmission agreements, the ministrys spokesman, Dzmitry Mironchyk, said at Thursdays briefing.

The proposals were put forward during the first round of visa facilitation and readmission talks, which took place in Minsk on June 12, Mr. Mironchyk said, expressing hope that they would be accepted.
Minsk still believes that citizens of Belarus should be able to obtain Schengen visas on the same terms as citizens of other countries involved in the EUs Eastern Partnership program, he said.

When asked to elaborate on the proposals, Mr. Mironchyk said that they were a subject of diplomatic talks and would not be disclosed to the public. We work at the negotiating table and do not use so-called megaphone diplomacy, he said.

Mr. Mironchyk told reporters on June 19 that the possibility of visiting the EU on diplomatic passports was a standard element of all visa facilitation agreements with Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.

A visa-free regime has already been introduced bilaterally with several EU member countries, namely, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, he added.

Despite Minsks demands, the European Union appears reluctant to place the issue of the use of diplomatic passports on the agenda of the talks until the political situation in Belarus improves, above all, until the political prisoners are released.

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. Belarusian 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.