EU And Belarus Reach Progress In Visa Facilitation, EU Reports

The 7th meeting of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group took place in Minsk on 24-25 April to take stock of EU-Belarus relations.

During the meeting, the EU reconfirmed its commitment to the swift conclusion of the negotiations on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities.

Besides, they welcomed progress in the negotiations on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements and discussed Mobility Partnership implementation.

“The delegations discussed the state of play on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities, which, once concluded, will mark a new phase of engagement between the EU and Belarus,” the report reads.

Nuclear safety and human rights

On nuclear safety, the Belarusian authorities provided an update on the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Stress Test Peer Review recommendations.

The EU stressed the importance of continued cooperation with European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group in the next steps of the process.

A special session was dedicated to human rights and democracy. The EU delegation met with Belarusian human rights defenders and representatives of the civil society.

The EU reaffirmed its opposition to the death penalty under any circumstances and recommended Belarus to impose a moratorium as a first step towards its abolition.

In addition, the European partners expressed their concern over freedom of expression and assembly in Belarus.

The EU presented its on-going and planned financial assistance programmes, which have doubled to approximately €30 million per year since 2016.

Reforms and modernisation

The delegations discussed how to enhance the impact of different financial assistance tools and how the EU can support reforms and modernisation.

The state of and prospects for cooperation in economy and finance, trade, digital economy, private sector development, customs, transport, agriculture and other areas were on the agenda.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei meets Thomas Mayr-Harting, the Managing Director of the EEAS in 2018. Photo: mfa.gov.by

The EU delegation was led by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

Besides, there were representatives of the European Commission responsible for the European Neighbourhood Policy, customs, taxation and statistics.

The Belarusian delegation was led by Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and included representatives of sector ministries and agencies.

As on previous occasions, experts and representatives of Belarusian non-governmental organisations also participated in parts of the meeting.

It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the Coordination Group before the end of the year in Brussels, Belgium.