Lithuania Interested In Visa Facilitation Between EU And Belarus

Lithuania is interested in increasing the number of tourists from Belarus and simplifying the visa regime between the European Union and Belarus, Delfi.lt reports.

This was made public by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, who received credentials from new Belarusian Ambassador Valery Baranovsky on Tuesday, 3 September.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius. Photo: Reuters

During the meeting, the parties discussed further development of economic, transport, educational, cultural and other cooperation between the countries.

Nuclear safety

The sensitive subject of the Belarusian power plant in Ostrovets district and the human rights situation in Belarus was also on the agenda.

“Nuclear safety and the Ostrovets NPP are among the main issues of the bilateral and international agenda for Lithuania. Lithuania and Belarus are neighbors, and all issues are important to us. As before, we will be pragmatic and support those projects or initiatives that will benefit both the EU and our bilateral relations,” the minister said.

Recall that Lithuania has repeatedly expressed their concern with BelNPP safety. Vilnius is convinced that its construction doesn’t comply with safety requirements and environmental standards.

Belarus denies the allegation. In 2017, the Lithuanian Seimas passed a law recognizing the BelNPP as unsafe and posing a threat to Lithuanian national security, environment and public health.

Earlier, the Lithuanian parliament passed a law designed to limit the import of electricity from Belarus and Russia. Lithuania also called on its EU neighbors not to buy electricity from nuclear power plants in Belarus and the Kaliningrad region of Russia.

However, this August, the Latvian government reportedly decided to open the border for electricity trade with third countries. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on whether there’s an agreement to sell electricity to Latvia.

Visa facilitation

The negotiations on visa facilitation between Belarus and the EU have been ongoing for some time now.

With the EU adopting a new visa code, visa fees for Belarusians wishing to enter the Schengen countries will rise from €60 to €80 on 1 February 2020. If an agreement is reached, the fees will be set at €35.

Poll: 89% Of Belarusians See The EU In Positive Or Neutral Light

According to various sources, the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini may come to Minsk this autumn to sign an agreement on visa facilitation between the states ‘this autumn’.

Meanwhile, Dirk Schuebel was nominated for the position of new Head of the EU delegation in Belarus. He will replace Andrea Wiktorin, who has held in Belarus this post since 2015.