Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

EU invited Belarus to visa facilitation talks

The European Union has invited Belarus to hold visa facilitation talks, the office of Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, said in a reply to a Belarusian politician`s appeal.

Anatol Lyawkovich, who describes himself as a "constructive" opponent of Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s government, urged the 27-nation bloc to make it easier for Belarusian citizens to obtain Schengen visas.

In its reply, the EU commissioner`s office said that the Belarusian authorities had not responded to the invitation, but EU countries still worked to simplify visa formalities for Belarusian citizens.

The office agreed with Mr. Lyawkovich that all parties should be involved in a constructive dialogue between Belarus and the EU and that all channels of communication should remain open. It is the Belarusian people that will be able to modernize the country through its involvement in democratic process, the letter said.

Mr. Fule`s office expressed hope that the Belarusian authorities would join the European Dialogue on Modernization, an exchange of opinions and ideas on Belarus` reforms and closer relations with the EU that has involved only representatives of civil society and opposition forces so far.

The agenda of the European Dialogue on Modernization has been proposed by representatives of Belarusian society with consideration for Belarusians` needs, the letter said. The office expressed hope that the program`s broad media coverage contributed to more fruitful discussions in Minsk and at the regional level.