EU has preliminary agreed to give Belarus a transitional period under the readmission agreement, the head of Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Alexei Begun told journalists.
The announcement came after visa talks held in Minsk on Tuesday, 20 June.
Belarus and the EU may initial the text of the readmission agreement this year, Alexei Begun said. If so, this will remove one of the two remaining obstacles to the simplification of visa regime for Belarusians.
“The results are very positive. The text of the agreement has been finalized by the experts. Despite the firm position of the EU experts, Belarus insisted on a transitional period for non-readmission of third-country nationals,” the official noted.
“We have reasons to believe that once everything is approved, we will be able to initial the text of the agreement this year,” he added.
Belarus needs the transitional period to assess its ability to implement the readmission agreement. In particular, it includes the country’s responsibility to independently accept all illegal migrants who arrive to the EU via Belarus and return them to their countries of residence.
At the same time, this period will be “slightly shorter” than the three years that Belarus had asked for, Begun added.
Consultations and initialing of the agreement are to follow now.
The second stumbling block in Belarus-EU visa talks – simplification of visa procedures for Belarusians – is oversaw by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The main disagreement in this matter was the EU’s demand for more serious guarantees of the safety of Belarusian diplomatic passports.
As was reported earlier, this requirement should be solved by the introduction of biometric passports in Belarus, scheduled for 2019.
Visa negotiations between Belarus and the EU have been going on for over three years. It is expected that Europe will lower consular fee from €60 to €35 and shorten the list of documents Belarusians are required to submit for Schengen visas.