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Opinions & Interviews

31 Oct 2019

Russian MFA: Belarus, Russia make progress towards common visa area

Russian MFA: Belarus, Russia make progress towards common visa area

MINSK, 31 October (BelTA) - Belarus and Russia have made progress in creating a unified visa system, Dmitry Vetrov, Deputy Director of the Second CIS Department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said as he addressed a meeting of the commission on security, defense and crime control of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Belarus-Russia Union State, BelTA has learned.

The commission is set to review the progress in the development of the common migration area between Belarus and Russia. The focus will be, in particular, on the preparation of a draft concept of the migration policy of the Union State.

“The convergence of the visa policies is of particular importance. The draft concept priorities the approximation of the procedures and regulations governing the issue of the documents for entry, stay, transit and exit and also the procedures related to the crossing of the external border of the Union State. In other words, we are talking about the ‘Schengen area’ for two. Much has already been done along the way. We see the work to prepare the intergovernmental agreement on mutual recognition of visas as a first step,” Dmitry Vetrov said.

The agreement creates a legal framework for the movement of foreigners in the Union State. “The key point is the possibility to enter Russia directly from Belarus and vice versa, i.e. not through border checkpoints. In addition, the agreement envisages a system to exchange the information on border crossings, on visas (issued, revoked and invalidated) and other entry and stay documents,” Dmitry Vetrov noted.

Dmitry Vetrov stressed that Russia has already completed the internal procedures for signing the agreement. “We expect similar steps from the Belarusian side. Simultaneously, with the work on the conceptual document defining the goals and objectives of our cooperation in migration, we are also taking practical steps,” he added.

This is a difficult issue that is not solved overnight, said Valery Gaidukevich, chairman of the commission on security, defense and crime control of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Belarus-Russia Union State, the deputy chairman of the standing committee on national security of the House of Representatives.
“Indeed the parties have reconciled their positions in many ways. I think that the agreement will be adopted in the near future," he said.

For his part, Frants Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the commission, member of the defense and security committee of the Federation Council, stressed that it is yet early to talk about specific dates. “We exercise parliamentary control, while decisions are made by the executive branches of the two states. Today we use such term as ‘Schengen area’ of Russia and Belarus and it is very constructive. This will help us to cooperate more closely, to grow economically, and, most importantly, to move freely,” he summed up.

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