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Opinions & Interviews

15 Jan 2018

Wiktorin on visa procedures, Belarus-EU partnership priorities

Wiktorin on visa procedures, Belarus-EU partnership priorities

MINSK, 15 January (BelTA) - The head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin looks forward to the further development of relations, including the finalization of the visa facilitation agreement  and the signing of the Belarus-EU partnership priorities. In an interview to the Belarus 1 TV channel the diplomat talked about the cooperation between Belarus and the EU, BelTA has learned.

On the launch of the five-day visa-free program in Belarus

Belarus launched the visa-free entry for citizens of a large number of states, including the countries of the European Union, almost a year ago. Andrea Wiktorin called it a very positive step by the Belarusian authorities. “Thanks to it your country is becoming more visible and accessible. It has become easier to visit the country, get acquainted with its nature, history, and its friendly people. This step can be called very successful,” she said. 

On the prospects of visa facilitation with the EU

According to the diplomat, there are still some technical issues to be resolved. The talks continue. The latest round was held in Brussels in December. “We are preparing for the next round which will be hosted by Belarus. The dates have not been set yet. So we are waiting for an invitation. I really hope that we will solve the last technical issues and will complete the work on the agreement,” Andrea Wiktorin noted.

On Belarus-EU partnership priorities

The head of the EU delegation noted that the past two years have seen a marked improvement in relations and enhancement of cooperation with Belarus. Belarus and EU have set up a coordination group which is a very important instrument as it discusses the full range of issues of mutual interest. The last meeting of this group took place in Brussels last December.

“The Belarus-EU coordination group provides an opportunity to expand cooperation. The European Union has doubled its assistance for Belarus. We are currently concluding the talks on the partnership priorities. The partnership priorities will become the first document to be signed between Belarus and the EU. It is a very important step that will give us a chance to expand our cooperation. We will see how our relations will be developing in the future,” she said.

“It is important that we follow a step-by-step strategy. Belarus agrees with such an approach. I hope that the Belarusian authorities will also take concrete steps. This is necessary for the further improvement of relations in the field of civil rights, democratization and the rule of law,” added Andrea Wiktorin.

On the international role of Belarus

“In my opinion, Belarus does a lot to promote regional cooperation, which is very important. The European Union appreciates this highly. We also welcome the constructive position of Belarus in relation to the conflict in Ukraine. From my point of view, regional cooperation has significantly intensified,” said the diplomat.

In her words, Belarus is an active participant of the Eastern Partnership initiative, and emphasized that the recent summit in Brussels was another milestone in bilateral cooperation. “Belarus played a very constructive role in all the discussions during the summit. It is very important to promote this cooperation since it opens the doors to direct cooperation with the neighbors,” Andrea Wiktorin said.

This pertains to cross-border cooperation with the Baltic countries, Poland, and also with Ukraine, she added. This cooperation provides additional opportunities to address issues of mutual interest such as climate change, energy efficiency, and to promote the development of digital markets. “Belarus has a great potential to play a very important role here,” the head of the EU mission said.

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