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14 Nov 2019

Belarus suggests amending agreement with Russia on border protection

Belarus suggests amending agreement with Russia on border protection

MINSK, 14 November (BelTA) - Belarus suggests amending the agreement with Russia on joint efforts in border protection which has been in force since 1995. Such a task was set today by the head of state, State Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Stanislav Zas told reporters after the meeting with the president, BelTA has learned.

“A number of provisions of the agreement have certainly grown outdated. A lot of time has passed; the situation has changed. A number of provisions of the agreement are really useful and are observed by the two parties. But in general, the document requires updating and strengthening,” Stanislav Zas noted. “The situation on the common border calls for more concerted action by the agencies concerned and by the two countries. We are ready for that,” he noted.

The state secretary noted that Belarus does not intend to withdraw from the border protection agreement and considers joint efforts to protect common border as useful and necessary. However, based on the current situation, the country proposes to revise the document. Moreover, now is a convenient time for this. The five-year term of the agreement is expiring in November.

He hailed a number of provisions of the document: information exchange, joint operational and search activities, personnel training. “However, some provisions of the agreement are observed formally, not in the volume which is necessary. These include joint efforts to develop infrastructure, to equip the forces and means that are used to protect the state border. We need more efforts in these areas,” Stanislav Zas noted.

He stressed that the openness of the joint border has both pros and cons for Belarus. One of the negative aspects is illegal migrants from Russia, who, using the transparency of the border, try to enter Belarus. Here they are detained and deported. Most of drugs detained by Belarusian border guards are bound mainly for Russia. Stanislav Zas also talked about the actions of the neighboring state: “We, as a transit country, lose our attractiveness as additional checkpoints are put up and citizens and goods are stopped there. They choose to travel via other countries. This is npt good for us.”

“We have to be honest about it with our citizens and our partners," the state secretary said. “Yet, when we compare the advantages pitched against the disadvantages, we see that the open border is a good thing. It is very convenient for people, both Russians and Belarusians,” Stanislav Zas noted.

For many years Belarusian border guards carried out border checks on persons on the external border of the Union State, using a joint travel ban list with the Russians. But later Russia unilaterally imposed controls on the border with Belarus. “We do not see the sense in that. But they have certainly created certain inconveniences,” Stanislav Zas noted.

While working on the amendments to the agreement we need to look for such joint actions which will not create problems in crossing the border, Stanislav Zas noted. “We understand the efforts of the Russian Federation to ensure its security. We understand the risks the country is facing: terrorist threat and so on. But we need to look for other ways of joint action and remove these inconveniences," he said. “At the very least, we need to assess the reasons and benefits. Maybe it makes sense to return to the system that we had before,” he added.

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