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Internal Ministry Reveals Why It Is Hard For Belarus To Fix Visa Issue

Belarus is in a unique situation because it has to negotiate visa issues and readmission with both the European Union and Russia.

The ultimate solution has to be comfortable for three sides, the head of the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Alexei Begun said in an interview with the STV channel.

“We find ourselves in a unique situation. Belarus is holding talks and consultations on the facilitation of visa formalities and readmission with the European Union.

At the same time, talks on mutual visa recognition are underway with the Russian Federation. And simultaneously there are the talks on amending the readmission agreement [with Russia].”

According to the official, the result of the negotiations should “meet the interests of Belarus as well as other parties who will sign these agreements”.

“We are continuing consultations both with Russia and the EU to find the best mechanism that would meet their national interests, and also the interests of Belarusian citizens,” Begun said.

Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told journalists at the beginning of March that the process of visa liberalization was accompanied by new difficulties all the time.

“New issues arise from scratch. It seemed we have agreed on everything, then suddenly there came a demand to increase the number of diplomatic staff,” Makei commented to TUT.BY.

The agreement should be signed in conjunction with the readmission agreement. Problem is, Belarus also has a readmission agreement with Russia that does not favor the terms of the proposed readmission agreement with the EU.

Belarusians waiting for cheaper Schengen

Belarus-EU negotiations on visa liberalization have been going on for almost five years. Both parties stated that the agreements were almost ready or were in the final stages.

Once they are signed, the price of a Schengen visa for Belarusians will drop to 35 euros (in embassies), the EU countries will issue more long-term visas and expand the number of categories of Belarusian citizens who can receive Schengen visas for free.

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