Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Belarus, Latvia Can Abolish Visas for Trans-border Residents This Year


The text of the agreement is almost ready, while Riga is waiting for an answer from Minsk.

Belarus and Latvia can soon abolish visas for the residents of trans-border areas. The similar deal was signed by Belarus and Poland on February 12.

The text of the agreement on the simplified border-crossing procedures between Belarus and Latvia is almost ready, while Latvia is expecting an answer from Belarus, Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Rets Plesums told Euroradio. "In December 2009 Latvia sent a letter to the Belarusian side with the editorial assessment of the agreement. We have not received an answer from Belarus yet, so we are waiting for an answer", he said.

Belarus has not responded for two months, but it is not surprising, says the Latvian official. If the answer arrives, Latvia will be ready to sign the agreement. "This requires time. It is a usual practice, a usual diplomatic procedure", said Plesums.

Anyway, the deal is likely to be signed this year, reckons the spokesman of the Latvian foreign ministry.

Belarus' Interior Ministry has confirmed that the draft of the agreement with Latvia does not differ from the agreements with Lithuania and Poland. The talk is about the so called 30+ rule. It means that if the border of the area begins within 30 km off the border and ends less than 50 km from the border, all the residents within this zone can benefit from visa-free travel.

Lithuanians have been waiting for a respond from Belarus for almost six months. The two countries planned to sign a visa-free trans-border agreement last September during the visit of Alexander Lukashenka to Vilnius. But in the last moment Belarus said it needed more time to sort out some unknown technical issues. Lithuanian official Marijus Gudinas from the foreign ministry says they have not received any new information from Belarus yet. However, the Belarusian ambassador in Vilnius told the local press that Belarus would be soon ready to sign this agreement, but the exact date is yet to be known, said Marijus Gudinas.