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2 Apr 2020

Belarus’ Council of Republic ratifies visa facilitation, readmission agreements with EU

Belarus’ Council of Republic ratifies visa facilitation, readmission agreements with EU

MINSK, 2 April (BelTA) – The Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus ratified the visa facilitation agreement and the agreement on readmission of individuals staying without an authorization with the European Union on 2 April, BelTA has learned.

The readmission agreement was presented to senators by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Kravchenko and Chairman of the International Affairs and National Security Commission of the Council of the Republic Sergei Rachkov. The officials stressed the importance of the document for the Belarus-EU relations. “The ratification of the agreement will help strengthen bilateral relations for the sake of continuous development of economic, humanitarian, cultural, scientific, and other ties between Belarus and the EU,” Sergei Rachkov said.

Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandr Barsukov presented the readmission agreement. He noted that thanks to the country’s geographical position, the implementation of the agreement will make an effective tool to fight illegal migration.

Both the agreements were also ratified by the House of Representatives at the opening of the spring session on 2 April.

Belarus and the EU signed the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in Brussels on 8 January. The parties believe that this will facilitate human contacts and the development of international ties, including in tourism, and strengthen trust and mutual understanding between the nations.

The visa facilitation agreement provides for mutual facilitation of visa procedures for a broad spectrum of citizens and for reducing visa fees. Citizens will be able to apply for visas to embassies of European nations and to visa centers. The price for a Schengen visa for Belarusians will drop to €35 while the decision to issue a visa or not will be made within ten days (30 days if additional background checks are required). Many categories of citizens will be able to apply for visas without paying the fee depending on the purpose of the visit and will be able to get multiple-entry visas with longer periods of validity using a simplified procedure. The cost of Belarusian visas for European Union citizens will drop to €35 as well. Apart from that, the list of justifications for issuing free visas for non-commercial purposes will be expanded. The duration of stay of foreigners in Belarus will be doubled from 90 days per year to 180 days.

Once the readmission agreement comes into force, Belarus and the European Union will have to readmit (take back) their own citizens, third-country citizens, and stateless persons, who do not meet or no longer meet the requirements to legally stay in each other's territory. Belarus will be granted a two-year transition period with regard to the readmission of third-country citizens. The joint declaration attached to the readmission agreement obliges the European Union to provide technical and financial support to Belarus in this area.

The documents are to be ratified by the National Assembly of Belarus and endorsed by the European Parliament. They will come into force on the first day of the second month after the parties have notified each other about the completion of the ratification procedures. The visa facilitation agreement is expected to come into effect in June 2020.

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