Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Deputy Foreign Minister: Visa facilitation and readmission talks with EU are rather difficult

Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Talks on visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Belarus and the European Union are rather difficult, Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna said in an interview broadcast Tuesday by Radio Belarus.

“Any talks, any consultations, especially on high-profile issues such as visa facilitation and readmission, are a confidential matter, so to speak,” Ms. Kupchyna said, adding that she might damage the negotiating process by revealing its details.

Ms. Kupchyna noted that two rounds of talks had been held this year, in June and in November. According to her, the draft agreements proposed by Belarus contain provisions of similar agreements with other Eastern Partnership participating countries and Russia and meet the requirments of the EU’s Visa Code. At the same time, the draft agreements reflect the European Commission`s proposals for amending the Visa Code, she said.

It is a matter of principle for the Belarusian government that facilitation and readmission agreements with Belarus should be based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, just like similar accords with other countries, Ms. Kupchyna stressed. However, the minimization of visa formalities for citizens of Belarus and visa facilitation for EU residents, “who are always welcome in our land,” should be the main objective of the talks, she said.

Ms. Kupchyna expressed satisfaction that Belarus and the EU had managed to settle some issues during the most recent round of talks. The negotiations will resume in January or February, she said.
Minsk wants the EU to allow Belarusian holders of diplomatic passports to enter the Schengen area without a visa.

Despite Minsk’s 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 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.