MINSK, 8 January (BelTA) – The European Union will endeavor to complete the ratification of the Belarus-EU visa facilitation agreement and the readmission agreement without delays. The relevant statement was made by European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson during the ceremony held in Brussels, Belgium on 8 January to sign the documents, representatives of the European Union Delegation to Belarus told BelTA.
Ylva Johansson described these agreements as a significant step forward in cooperation. “They will improve mobility of our citizens in a well-managed and safe environment and will help build tighter connections between the European Union and Belarus. Now the European side will move forward fast with the ratification procedures so that citizens could feel the benefits as soon as possible,” she stressed.
Ylva Johansson believes the two agreements will also help establish tighter ties between the European Union and its Eastern Partnership Initiative neighbors.
The agreements were signed by Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, and Croatian Internal Affairs Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Davor Bozinovic (Croatia presides over the European Council now).
Representatives of the European Union Delegation to Belarus noted that the visa facilitation agreement will make it easier for Belarus citizens to get short-term visas for entering the European Union. Once the agreement comes into force, the visa fee for Belarusians will be reduced to €35. Apart from that, the service charge will be limited and the time for consulates to decide on granting a visa or not will be reduced. Several categories of travelers, including reporters, university students, and members of official delegations, will be able to get multiple-entry visas with longer and longer periods of validity while providing fewer documents to confirm the purpose of their trip. Belarus has unilaterally introduced measures to facilitate short-term visa-free trips to Minsk for European Union citizens.
The European Union Delegation to Belarus stressed that the main purpose of the Belarus-EU readmission agreement is to mutually introduce procedures for the safe and organized return of persons, who illegally live in the European Union or Belarus, while observing their rights in compliance with international law.