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10 January 2017, 16:43

Belarus may extend list of countries for visa-free travel

MINSK, 10 January (BelTA) – The list of the countries whose citizens are eligible to enter Belarus visa-free for a period of up to five days may be extended, Igor Fisenko, Head of the Central Consular Office of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a press briefing at BelTA's press center on 10 January.

The list currently features 80 countries, and so far there are no plans to extend it. Still, Igor Fisenko noted that the practice may be further developed based on the results of the implementation of the presidential decree. “As for the list of the countries whose nationals are eligible for visa-free entry to Belarus, it may be extended. First of all, we will reciprocate similar moves from other countries. Besides, we develop our relations with foreign countries, we get new partners, and these states can be added to the list as our relations grow stronger,” Igor Fisenko said.

He added that Belarus' visa-free travel policy can be expanded not only by adding new countries to the list, but also by increasing the number of border checkpoints with the possibility of visa-free crossing and by extending the permitted period of visa-free stay.

Igor Fisenko presented the criteria that were used to draw up the list. He said that the list includes, first of all, Belarus' key partners, and not only trading ones. The tourist flows were taken into account. Attention was also paid to the level of bilateral business cooperation. “Apart from that, we considered the reciprocity factor. If you think of the countries that have already granted visa-free entry for Belarusian citizens, you will see that almost all of them are featured on the list. Some time ago they abolished visa requirements for us, and now we reciprocate their move,” Igor Fisenko explained.

Belarus introduced visa-free entry through the border checkpoint at the Minsk National Airport and visa-free stay in Belarus for up to 5 days for citizens of 80 states. The president's decree applies to citizens of 39 countries of Europe, including the entire European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, the USA, Japan, and other countries. The document aims to raise the number of business trips, tourism and private visits of people with regular passports and will not apply to foreigners on official trips with diplomatic, service, special and similar passports.

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