Belarusian Ambassador to Germany Andrej Hiro believes that now "it’s not the most appropriate moment to discuss facilitation of the visa regime with the European Union, when more than 200 Belarusian officials can’t even go to the West".
He said this on May 21 during the debate in the Bundestag on Germany and the EU’s policy towards Belarus.
Stating that Minsk "is interested in a dialogue with the West, and has never refused it", the ambassador criticized the double standards of the EU, the limited participation of Belarus in Eastern Partnership, as well as the start of a dialogue on the modernization of Belarus without the participation of representatives of the Belarusian authorities, BelaPAN informs.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, regional cooperation and the OSCE European External Action Service of the European Union, Gunnar Wiegand stated that the simplification of visa regime and reducing the cost of visas would affect "millions of Belarusians", but Minsk had been keeping silent to the EU proposal for almost a year. In this situation, he says, a number of the EU countries have taken this step in a bilateral manner. At the same time, Gunnar Wiegand agrees that modernization is impossible without the participation of the Belarusian government. He notes that the EU with the help of Belarusian civil society is correcting an interim plan of bilateral cooperation.
The diplomat adds that the revision of sanctions imposed by the EU requires "liberating and rehabilitating the remaining ten political prisoners who are still in jail", as well as "the progress in the field of fundamental rights and freedoms".
Meanwhile, the head of the German-Belarusian society and the executive director of the Eastern Committee of German economy, Rainer Lindner declared about the signals "of Minsk’s readiness to meet Europe". He says, however, that the traditional Minsk Forum in fall 2012 is not planned, but does not rule out the revision of the decision if the situation in Belarus begins to change.